A man climbed a flagpole Wednesday and unfurled a banner at the downtown offices of LyondellBasell, protesting a refinery expansion that will add capacity for processing crude from Canadian oil sands. The activist group Tar Sands Blockade identified the protester, whom police arrested at the scene, as Perry Graham.
The group has organized numerous demonstrations along the route of TransCanada’s partly built Keystone XL pipeline which, if approved by the State Department, will transport crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.
LyondellBasell spokesman David Harpole said the company supports the Keystone XL as a way to “bring a safe, reliable and stable supply of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to refineries throughout the central US, including LyondellBasell.”
The upgrade under way at its Houston refinery will increase the plant’s capacity for processing Canadian crude from 60,000 to 175,000 barrels per day, a little more than half of its total capacity, Harpole said.
The refinery receives Canadian crude now via the Seaway Pipeline system, a joint venture of Enterprise Products Partners and Enbridge that connects with a key hub in Cushing, Okla., Harpole said, and eventually expects to get the crude from the Keystone XL and from Enbridge’s Flanagan South project.
“Canadian crude is here and it’s here to stay,” Harpole said.
Tar Sands Blockade and other Keystone XL opponents contend that the material in Canadian sands, called bitumen, requires more emissions to produce than other hydrocarbons and is more difficult to clean up in case of a spill.
Read ongoing FuelFix coverage of the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline:
- Senate endorses Keystone XL pipeline construction (May 22)
- Billionaire targets Senate candidate over Keystone XL (March 18)
- As odds grow long, critics move to stop Keystone XL (March 18)
- Unions split on plans for Keystone XL pipeline (March 18)
- Obama: Keystone XL pipeline not major jobs creator (March 14)