Protester unfurls anti-Keystone banner at refiner’s office

Perry Graham is arrested for trespassing after climbing a flag pole at LyondellBasell tower to protest a pipeline through Tar Springs. (Nick de la Torre/Houston Chronicle)

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.

A protester identified as Perry Graham displays a banner from the flagpole at the downtown offices of LyondellBasell, opposing a refinery expansion that would process Canadian crude transported in the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Nick de la Torre photo/Houston Chronicle)

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