Oil begins flowing through Keystone XL’s southern leg

HOUSTON — TransCanada has begun moving oil into the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg, which runs from Oklahoma to the Texas coast, a company spokesman said Monday.

“TransCanada is pleased to confirm that at approximately 10:04 am Central Time on Saturday, December 7, 2013, the company began to inject oil into the Gulf Coast Project pipeline as it moves closer to the start of commercial service,” TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said in an email.

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The pipeline owner will need to fill the newly constructed line before it can begin delivering oil to refineries along the Gulf Coast, including those in Houston. TransCanada plans to fill the new pipeline system with about 3 million barrels of oil in the coming weeks, the company said.

The company has said it expects to begin deliveries by the end of the year.

Although TransCanada is still waiting for approval to construct the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect with oil sands fields in Canada, the company has completed the $2.3 billion southern leg.

The line will be capable of bringing up to 700,000 barrels per day of oil to the Gulf Coast, providing more supplies of crude to refineries.

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Refineries are eager to see the northern leg of the pipeline completed, since that portion would bring more of the heavy type of oil sands crude that is especially lucrative for them to process. Oil sands crude currently is priced lower than heavy oil imported from overseas.

The northern leg requires presidential approval since it crosses an international border.

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Protests or not, they have a pipeline to build