Tag Archives: Arkansas

More options for crude export in Canada may help Keystone XL’s case in U.S., consultant says

12 Apr

By Dave Cooper, Edmonton Journal April 9, 2013

EDMONTON – The push for tougher greenhouse-gas rules in Canada and plans for a new crude pipeline to Atlantic Canada may help make the case for the Keystone XL pipeline, says a Washington-based energy consultant.

In a research note, Robert Johnston of the Eurasia Group, said he expects approval of the northern leg of the Keystone XL between Alberta and Nebraska by late summer, despite the recent spill of Alberta heavy crude in Arkansas, which has been highlighted by critics of the proposed Keystone line.

Johnston said the bitumen spill on the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline “created significant headline risk and could generate further delays” for U.S. federal approval. But this is balanced by recent proposals for stricter greenhouse-gas emission rules in Canada which are being pushed by the Alberta government, and further progress on TransCanada’s proposed “Energy East” pipeline which will deliver oilsands output to Atlantic Canada.

Johnston noted the Arkansas spill “has driven a strong response by the environmental community in Washington, which is virtually united in opposing Keystone XL.” He adds the spill “is being used to re-engage the administration following public comments by President (Barack) Obama in San Francisco last week that were interpreted as more favourable for Keystone XL approval.”

Johnston notes the Keystone will have a number of new “smart” systems to detect and respond to leaks, and will be built with better materials than those used in the 60-year-old Pegasus pipeline.

And the push for an eastern outlet, with TransCanada’s plans to convert one of its underused natural gas pipelines to carry crude and extend the line from Montreal to Saint John, N.B., with its large Irving refinery, has shown there is another option to Keystone XL.

That, in combination with Enbridge’s plans to reverse its existing line to Montreal so western light crude can reach the Suncor refinery there, will weaken the environmentalists’ argument that stopping Keystone will halt oilsands development.

“The Keystone XL alternatives are crucial as they underpin the argument that the GHG (greenhouse gas) impact of KXL itself will be neutral, as the oilsands will be produced and brought to market with or without the KXL project,” said Johnston.

However, using rail or the TransCanada line to the east are still not the best choices for many producers, since those options will be more expensive than using the Keystone line.

Eurasia notes the 45-day comment period on the draft of the U.S. environmental impact statement is set to expire on April 22 unless it is extended. If it expires, it will take an additional one to two months to prepare the final statement, which would then have to undergo an inter-agency review of up to 90 days.

“Sources contacted by Eurasia Group are divided over whether the White House would use most or all of that time. On balance, while approval remains highly likely, timing now looks more likely to be late summer versus late spring,” said the report.

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/energy-resources/More+options+crude+export+Canada+help/8218564/story.html

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Another Oil Pipeline Spill on the Weekend, Where’s the Media Attention?

12 Apr

April 9, 2013 – Kevin Grandia

While clean up continues on the Exxon oil spill in Arkansas, another oil pipeline burst was detected over the weekend – this time in Houston, Texas.

The Shell Oil owned pipeline burst was detected Friday by the US National Response Center and has dumped an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil into a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico (as if it needed any more oil dumped into it!).

Operators of the Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary West Columbia pipeline, a 15 mile long, 16 inch diameter line, received warnings from the US National Response Center of a potential 700 barrel release (nearly 30,000 gallons) of crude oil on Friday, March 29.

Yesterday, representatives from the US Coast Guard acknowledged at least 50 barrels of oil had entered Vince Bayou, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

So far this latest pipeline burst has received very little mainstream news coverage, likely because there has been so many spills lately (3 in the last week alone), that it is no longer considered “news.”

Of course, this all comes at a time that the Obama administration is under great pressure to make a final decision on the new Keystone XL pipeline that will complete a span of pipe from Alberta, Canada all the way to Texas. The Keystone pipeline will transport diluted bitumen (also known as dilbit or “junk crude”), the same type oil that spilled from a burst pipe last weekend in Mayflower, Arkansas.

Republished from Earth First! Newswire: http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/another-oil-pipeline-spill-on-the-weekend-wheres-the-media-attention/

Did the Exxon Spill in Mayflower Just Sink Keystone XL?

6 Apr

Jamie Henn – April 4, 2013

If President Obama rejects the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Big Oil executives are likely to look back at last weekend’s tar sands spill in Mayflower, Arkansas as a key reason for their defeat.

In a rational world, President Obama would have rejected the Keystone XL pipeline long ago. The nation’s top climate scientists have declared it an environmental disaster, over 800,000 Americans have written the Senate and State Department opposing the project, more than 40,000 recently descended on Washington, DC to push for a rejection. Time Magazine has called Keystone XL the “Selma and Stonewall” of the environmental movement for good reason: more people have gone to jail and rallied in the streets over the pipeline than any other environmental issue in the last decade.

But it’s the images of tar sands oil submerging backyards, flowing down driveways, and contaminating entire streets of the Mayflower subdivision that may finally dramatize all the risks that come with Keystone XL. The ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower carried about 90,000 barrels of tar sands a day, about 1/10th of tar sands that would flow through Keystone XL. Take the Mayflower spill, times it by ten, and superimpose it over one of our largest sources of fresh drinking water, the Ogallala Aquifer, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what a spill from Keystone XL would look like: a BP style disaster on land.

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It was pictures like those coming out of Mayflower that helped fuel the last great surge of environmental activism in the late 1960s that led to the first Earth Day and the passage of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Then, it was the Cuyahoga River catching on fire, the massive oil spill off of Santa Barbara, and other local disasters that brought the “pollution crisis” to public consciousness. Now, it’s pictures of climate catastrophes like last summer’s massive wildfires in Colorado or the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, and videos of fossil fuel disasters like the Mayflower spill or last year’s tar sands spill in Kalamazoo River, that are causing people to connect the dots between the new extreme energy rush and the ever worsening climate crisis.

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This April 18, the State Department will host its one public comment hearing in Nebraska on the latest supplemental environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline, a review that was widely criticized by environmental groups and experts as seriously flawed and inadequate. 350.org is working with our allies to submit over 1,000,000 public comments and our friends at BOLD Nebraska are helping organize hundreds of farmers, ranchers, and landowners who will testify in person. Their words (and yours if you submit a comment) will make a difference – the State Department is required by law to count and review every comment submitted. But perhaps it’s the images out of places like Mayflower that will speak louder than all those words.

We’ve been given just a small glimpse of what our fossil fuel addicted future could look like: more spills, more climate disasters, more communities put at risk for industry profits. It’s a future that we, and President Obama, can and should reject. It doesn’t have to be this way. After all, as our friend Van Jones says, “You know what they call a solar spill? A sunny day.”

Republished from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-henn/mayflower-oil-spill_b_3016242.html

Arkansas Spill Shows ‘Nightmare Scenario’ if Keystone Approved, Group Warns

6 Apr

By The Canadian Press – April 2, 2013

 
Arkansas spill shows ‘nightmare scenario’ if Keystone approved, group warns (with video)
 

Crude oil from a ruptured pipeline spills into a drainage ditch leading into Lake Conway in Mayflower, Ark. Residents may be displaced for weeks, officials said, as crews continued to clean up the thousands of barrels of oil and water.

Photograph by: Alan English , AP/The Log Cabin Democrat

CALGARY — A crude oil leak from an ExxonMobil pipeline in Arkansas comes at a particularly bad time for the Canadian company looking to build the contentious Keystone XL pipeline through the American heartland.

TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) hopes it is in the home stretch of a years-long process to win U.S. government approval for its multibillion-dollar project, which has been assailed by environmental groups for its potential impact on everything from fresh water sources to climate change.

The spill from ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline is likely the last thing TransCanada needed, with the U.S. State Department being months away from issuing a final decision on Keystone XL after repeated delays, said Queen’s University professor Warren Mabee.

“I think that just is another set of bad publicity that Keystone is going to have to overcome,” said Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at the university in Kingston, Ont.

“As we move towards a decision, this just becomes another hurdle for a new project to overcome — the idea that maybe these pipelines aren’t as safe as they’re made out to be.”

The leak from the Pegasus pipeline in no way changes the facts around the safety of Keystone XL, said Mabee, yet “politically, this is a big problem.”

“If it was purely down to the facts, the decision would come down easily on the side of the Keystone. That project would be approved,” said Mabee.

“If you have a president or a State Department that is looking for excuses to either put this project on hold or to justify cancelling it, this works right into that argument, unfortunately.”

Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation, said the Pegasus spill serves as a “sad illustration” of the risks associated with oil pipelines.

“I think it certainly highlights the nightmare scenario that’s playing out in a lot of minds along the (Keystone XL) route,” he said.

In Arkansas, it doesn’t appear at this point that the oil has reached any nearby water sources, said Murphy.

“We certainly hope there’s no impact to water, but the fact that this much oil was able to spill so near important water bodies I think really indicates that if that oil doesn’t reach water bodies, it’s more luck than anything else.”

Pegasus carries 96,000 barrels per day from Patoka, Ill. — a major destination for Canadian crude, including that from the oilsands — to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Keystone XL would dwarf that in size, with an initial capacity of 830,000 barrels per day.

ExxonMobil says as of Sunday, some 12,000 barrels had been recovered and crews continue to work on the cleanup.

Nearly three years ago, a major spill from an Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) pipeline in southern Michigan fouled parts of the Kalamazoo River.

Although the NWF has been pushing for stronger pipeline safety regulations and response procedures, Murphy says those projects should not be built at all.

“We still have not changed our bottom line that tarsands oil is too risky and is just too destructive a fuel source for us to be developing and transporting.”

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard called the Pegasus leak an “unfortunate circumstance” that “demonstrates the pipeline industry must continue to focus on the safe, reliable operation of its energy infrastructure.”

“The fact remains that pipelines are the safest way to move oil and other products to markets to meet consumer demands and maintain our quality of life,” he said.

“TransCanada plans on building the most advanced, state-of-the-art pipeline that has been built to date using the latest technology, highest strength steel and most modern welding techniques.”

He said 57 new safety procedures, including remotely controlled shutoff valves and increased pipe inspections, should instill further confidence that Keystone XL will be operated safely.

The $5.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline would carry crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest and Nebraska, connecting with another $2.3-billion pipeline currently under construction between Oklahoma and the Texas. Those two pipelines were initially part of one project, but TransCanada decided to tackle them separately when Washington rejected its earlier proposal last year.

TransCanada refiled a new application with a reworked route through Nebraska, where there were concerns pipeline construction could damage a fragile ecosystem of grass-covered sand dunes and threaten a major aquifer.

A draft environmental report from the State Department last month flagged no major issues with the rejigged route. It will issue a final report after a comment period.

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/energy-resources/Arkansas+spill+shows+nightmare+scenario/8178079/story.html

Ducks Near Arkansas Oil Spill Found Dead After ExxonMobil Pipeline Rupture

2 Apr

Jeannie Nuss – April 1, 2013

Ducks Arkansas Oil Spill

A worker cleans up oil in Mayflower, Ark., on Monday, April 1, 2013, days after a pipeline ruptured and spewed oil over lawns and roadways. (AP Photo/Jeannie Nuss)

 

MAYFLOWER, Ark. (AP) — The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured last week.

“I’m an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. “We don’t like to see that. No one does.”

Officials are urging people in Mayflower, a small city about 20 miles northwest of Little Rock, not to touch any injured or oiled animals as crews clean up Friday’s spill.

About 12,000 barrels of oil and water have been recovered since ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline sprung a leak, spewing oil onto lawns and roadways and nearly fouling a nearby lake.

Dodson said he expects a few more oily birds to turn up in the coming days.

“I don’t expect a great number of them,” he said. “I’ll be thoroughly disappointed if there are.”

Investigators are still working to determine what caused the spill, which led authorities to evacuate nearly two dozen homes in a subdivision.

It’s not clear when residents will be able to return to their homes, but Dodson said it could be within days for some people.

“Our focus is to protect the community,” said Karen Tyrone, vice president of operations for ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. “We have air monitoring going on seven days a week, 24 hours a day … and to date, we have no indication that there’s a health impact on the community.”

Still, the air smells like oil, and area residents say it has for days.

“We live five miles out in the country and we’ve had the smell out there,” Karen Lewis, 54, said outside a local grocery store. Its parking lot, like much of this small city, is teeming with cleanup crews and their trucks.

Meanwhile, in the neighborhood where the pipeline burst, workers in yellow suits waded in an oil-soaked lawn Monday as they tried to clean up part of the area where the spill began.

The pipeline that ruptured dates back to the 1940s, according to ExxonMobil, and is part of the Pegasus pipeline that carries crude oil from the Midwest to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Exxon spokesman Charlie Engelmann said the oil is conventionally produced Canadian heavy crude.

“Crude oil is crude oil,” Dodson said. “None of it is real good to touch.”

Republished from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/ducks-arkansas-oil-spill_n_2994795.html

Exxon cleans up Canadian crude spill in Arkansas amid debate over Keystone

1 Apr

The Canadian Press – March 31, 2013

MAYFLOWER, Ark. – Exxon Mobil Corp. says crews are working to contain and clean up an oil spill near Mayflower, Ark., after its Pegasus pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon.

The pipeline carries Canadian heavy crude oil from Patoka, Illinois to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast.

Exxon Mobil issued a release saying the company was responding to a spill of more than 10,000 barrels, and that some 4,500 barrels of oil and water had been recovered.

The latest spill comes at time when proponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have been trying to convince Washington to give the $7 billion project the green light.

Opponents of TransCanada Corp.’s plan to pipe Alberta oilsands bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast denounce it as an environmental catastrophe in the making.

Dan Gatti of the advocacy group Environment America says the Arkansas spill provides a glimpse into what would happen if the Keystone pipeline got built.

“These images of oil-coated disasters need to become reminders of a bygone era, not a sign of things to come,” Gatti said in a statement Sunday.

Exxon said the 20-inch pipeline had been shut down as crews tried to prevent the spilled oil from reaching a nearby lake.

It said cleanup operations were being co-ordinated with the Department of Emergency Management and other local authorities, and that the cause of the spill was being investigated.

Last Monday, federal regulators proposed that Exxon Mobil pay $1.7 million in civil penalties for safety violations linked to a pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 238,000 litres of crude oil into Montana’s scenic Yellowstone River in July 2011.

The spill fouled approximately 110 kilometres of the Yellowstone River’s banks, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a massive, months-long cleanup.

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/story.html?id=8175298

Oil Pipeline Ruptures in Arkansas

1 Apr

Michael Schwirtz – March 30, 2013

Emergency crews worked Saturday to contain several thousand gallons of crude oil that spilled from a ruptured Exxon Mobil pipeline in central Arkansas.

Crews from Exxon Mobil were still investigating the cause of the rupture, which occurred on Friday afternoon in a section of the Pegasus pipeline near the town of Mayflower, which has about 1,700 people and is 25 miles north of Little Rock.

The local authorities said in a statement on Saturday that 22 homes in the vicinity of the spill had been evacuated.

As soon as the spill was detected, the pipeline was shut down and isolation valves were closed to prevent further leakage, Exxon Mobil said in a statement.

About 2,000 feet of boom was set up to contain the oil, and 15 vacuum trucks were deployed to clean it up, Exxon Mobil said. About 4,500 barrels of oil and water had been removed by Saturday evening, the company said.

Crews were working to make sure no oil entered nearby Lake Conway.

The Environmental Protection Agency classified the leak as a “major spill,” Exxon Mobil said.

Republished from The NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/us/oil-pipeline-ruptures-in-arkansas.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&