TransCanada has begun working in Oklahoma on the southern segment of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
“It's kind of like a slow-moving train,” project spokesman Jim Prescott said. “Once it gets going, it takes a while to get up to speed with all the crews that have to fall in, one behind the other.”
Prescott said crews are working along the pipeline route from south of Cushing to the Texas border. They are relocating utilities and clearing right of way before the pipe is buried.
“We're still a few weeks away from ditch work,” he said.
The 485-mile pipeline will transport up to 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the storage hub at Cushing to refineries in the Houston area.
TransCanada announced plans to proceed with the Gulf Coast Project earlier this year after the Obama administration denied the company a permit for the transcontinental Keystone XL pipeline.
The company has reapplied for the necessary permit to build a pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border on its way from Alberta to Cushing.
Construction of the southern segment is expected to be completed by mid-2013, Prescott said, so the pipeline can go into service by the end of next year.
Crews began working this summer after TransCanada secured the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the company needed to secure an additional permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before proceeding in Oklahoma because of the presence of the endangered American burying beetle.