US backs Canada pipeline

The US State Department has finally given its backing to the controversial Canada-US pipeline.

Pipeline under construction

Pipeline construction Source: rcbodden

The decision to approve the Keystone XL pipe has come after considerable debate, with the Obama Administration having to wrestle with the thorny issues of securing domestic oil resources against environmental considerations.

The decison is also likely to have been influenced by China's increasing interest in the Canadian oil sand fields which the US has viewed as a further threat to oil supplies.

There is still a long way to go before work on the the 36-inch diameter, 1,700 mile, $7bn pipeline finally begins from the the Alberta sands to Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast via the Great Plains.  As well as significant opposition from environmental organisations, with the threat of legal action, other federal agencies have to approve the plans which will also go through public hearings and state-specific planning consultations.

The pipeline will be owned and operated by TransCanada, which has already agreed to recommendations laid down by the US Transportation Department relating to reducing spill risk.  If the approval process achieves a relatively smooth ride to approval, the pipleine is set to open in 2013.