The southern leg of Keystone XL pipeline reached capacity much faster than expected, a TransCanada official said Monday.
Corey Goulet, vice president of TransCanada’s Keystone development, said the company wanted the 487-mile pipeline to transport 700,000 barrels of oil a day after about 90 days of operation.
“We achieved that last week” in about half that time, Goulet said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. He was in Tulsa on Monday to visit a local pipeline company and speak to the Tulsa Pipeliners Club.
Goulet said the pipeline known as the Gulf Coast Project has helped relieve the bottleneck at the Cushing hub when the capacity of pipelines into the hub vastly exceeded the ability to move it out. The line started moving crude oil out of Cushing on Jan. 22.
He said that has narrowed the discount on West Texas Intermediate crude, the oil priced at Cushing, compared with Brent crude, the major benchmark for oil worldwide.
The gap now is about $5 a barrel, Goulet said, but it had reached as much as $25 before the pipeline was completed.
TransCanada built that leg of its Keystone XL pipeline after its original bid for a presidential permit for the transcontinental pipeline in 2012. The company still is pursuing a permit for the other half of the project.
Goulet said a resolution on TransCanada’s permit application could come this summer, noting media reports indicating President Barack Obama recently told a group of governors, including Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, that a decision would be made in a couple of months.
He said the State Department, which is conducting the Obama administration’s review of the project, should complete its study of whether the project is in the national interest by early May.
Snag hit in Nebraska
Goulet also acknowledged TransCanada hit “a bit of a snag” in Nebraska, where a judge ruled state regulators, not the governor, should decide on the pipeline route. He said the state attorney general has lodged an appeal in the case, which will be heard by the Nebraska Supreme Court.
If those decisions end up in TransCanada’s favor, Goulet said the company is ready to begin construction of the 1,179-mile pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb., as soon as possible.
Most polls continue to indicate a majority of Americans still support the project, which Goulet said would be the “safest pipeline in the U.S.”