TransCanada receives final key permit for Gulf Coast Project pipeline; construction set to begin this summer
TransCanada Corporation has received the final of three key permits needed from the US Army Corps of Engineers in order to advance the 485-mile (780-kilometer) Gulf Coast Project. (Earlier post.) The Gulf Coast Project represents the Cushing-to-Gulf portion of the original Keystone XL pipeline plan.
With the permit from the Fort Worth, Texas Army Corps district added to previously received permits from the Galveston, Texas and the Tulsa, Oklahoma districts, TransCanada is now in a position to start construction of the oil pipeline in the coming weeks.
The US$2.3-billion pipeline will be built in three distinct spreads or sections, said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.
The pipeline will transport growing supplies of US crude oil to meet refinery demand in Texas.
Safety features for the pipeline include:
Around-the-clock monitoring of pipeline operations by staff empowered to shut down the pipeline at the first sign of a problem;
A greater number of data sensors and emergency shut-off valves than in older pipeline systems;
Information updates every five seconds on pipeline operating conditions from more than 36,000 electronic sensors that transmit data via satellite (16,000 sensors in the current operational Keystone pipeline, 6,800 for the Gulf Coast Project, 13,500 for Keystone XL);
The ability to shut down the pipeline and isolate affected sections within minutes using hundreds of remote-controlled shut-off valves; and
Requiring all possible problems to be investigated immediately by pipeline controllers and field staff. The pipeline cannot be re-started until it is confirmed safe to do so.
The company has voluntarily agreed to 57 additional safety procedures that will be incorporated into the construction of the crude oil pipelines, including a higher number of remotely controlled shutoff valves, increased pipeline inspections and burying the pipe deeper in the ground. TransCanada uses horizontal directional drilling to drill under major rivers a minimum of 25 feet. This allows them to bury the pipe deeper on both sides of the river bank, offering protection from floods or high river levels. The pipe will be made of thicker steel as it crosses rivers, will operate at a lower pressure and be further protected by advanced non-abrasive coatings.
The US Department of State is currently reviewing TransCanada’s application for a Presidential Permit to proceed with the 1,179-mile (1,897-km) Keystone XL pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska and is expected to make a decision in the first quarter of 2013. TransCanada also continues to work with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to finalize a route.