What is Keystone Pipeline Project?

The US president elect Joe Biden is expected to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Keystone pipeline system

The keystone pipeline system is an oil pipeline system in the United States and Canada. It was commissioned in 2010 and is owned by the Government of Alberta and TC Energy. The pipeline runs from the Western Canadian sedimentary basin in Alberta to the Refineries in Texas and Illinois.

What is the issue?

Recently a proposed fourth phase of the keystone pipeline system attracted opposition from environmentalists over climate change and fossil fuels. In 2015, President Obama delayed the implementation of the 4th phase of the project. In 2017, President Trump permitted the completion of the pipeline. In 2021, President elect Biden has planned to cancel the project.

Environmental Concerns

The major environmental concern raised against the project is that the pipeline spill will threaten Ogallala aquifer. Ogallala aquifer is one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world. It supports more than 2 million people by providing drinking water to them. Also, the aquifer supports 20 billion USD of agricultural activities. It is located beneath The Great Plains in the United States.

Oil Spills in Keystone Pipeline System

In 2016 more than 400 barrels of oil leaked from the keystone pipeline network due to weld anomaly. In 2017 the pipeline leaked more than 9600 barrels of oil. In 2019, the pipeline spilled more than 9000 barrels of oil.

Oil Sand Concerns

The environmental organisations also opposed the project due to its transportation from Oil Sands. The oil Sands are technically called bituminous sands. These are unconventional petroleum deposits. They occur naturally in the mixture of sand, water, and clay. The petroleum in oil sands is highly viscous. Large quantities of natural bitumen deposits are found in Russia, Venezuela, Canada and Kazakhstan.

The major concern of extracting Petroleum from oil sands is that it releases 17% more greenhouse gas emissions than the conventional oil extraction.

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