As the Keystone XL project puts its shovels in the ground, we thought it would be prudent to revisit the myths and facts which have marred the project’s 10+ year development history.

  • Myth: The Keystone XL pipeline isn’t part of a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Fact:
    • The Keystone XL pipeline is part of an energy future with multiple sources of energy – and which can enable a net zero carbon future.  The products made from oil and gas are a critical part of supply chains that enable a transition to net-zero emissions.  Making plastics that are part of wind turbine blades, mining metals like lithium for batteries, building solar panels – all these products require oil. 
    • The Keystone XL pipeline enables refined oil products to be produced from an environmentally leading supplier (Canada) which is actively reducing the energy intensity of oil production through innovation, is reducing GHGs (through CO2 and methane emission reduction), operates in a strict regulatory framework, pays carbon taxes, and pays fair wages, with equitable labor standards.  
    • Keystone XL pipeline will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to other transportation like rail.
  • Myth: Keystone XL only carries “dirty Canadian oil from the tar sands”
  • Fact:
    • Keystone XL transports diluted bitumen extracted from the oil sands. Oil sands are a bitumen-saturated deposit consisting mostly of silica sand and a small fraction of clays. Tar is a by product of coal distillation. Therefore, there’s no “tar” in the oil sands.
    • Crudes are classified by density, from extra-heavy to light oil. Raw bitumen is an extra-heavy crude. Once diluted for pipeline transport, the crude is classified as a medium/heavy oil. Venezuela, California, Mexico, Angola, Iran and countless other nations produce heavy oil. Heavy does not equate to “dirty”.
    • Keystone XL also transports “made-in-the-USA” light oil from the North Dakota Bakken area on its way down to a distribution hub in Nebraska.
  • Myth: Keystone XL will harm the environment along the pipeline route
  • Fact:
  • Keystone XL will have world-class safety standards in place including 24/7 digital monitoring for leak detection.
    • Approximately 16,000 sensors along the pipeline will send data to the project’s control centre every five seconds, which will be equipped with immediate automatic shut-off capability
  • Myth: Keystone XL only benefits Canada
  • Fact:
    • Keystone XL gives Americans access to a safe and reliable oil supply from Canada, reducing reliance on countries like Venezuela and Mexico, that have declining oil production, and curtailing imports from the Middle-East and Africa, who show no concern for the environment or human rights and use oil revenues for “questionable” activities.
    • The US produces mostly light oil from shale deposits, most of which is too light for US refineries. Canadian heavy oil allows Americans to blend their light oil to a more desirable density. That improves the marketability and selling price of US light oil.
  • Myth: Oil sands crude is more corrosive than conventional crude and will cause the pipeline to leak.
  • Fact:
  • Oil sands crude is no different than any other heavy crude and is completely safe to transport through pipelines.
  • Numerous world-renowned laboratory studies, including a study by the National Academy of Sciences, have shown that pipelines carrying oil sands oil are just as safe as other pipelines carrying crude oil.
  • Myth: No one wants to live near pipelines, and that a pipeline constructed near your property is guaranteed to lower your property value
  • Fact:
  • Although not directly related to Keystone XL as it carries oil rather than gas, this is still relevant; the Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) Foundation that proves the presence of a natural gas pipeline does not affect the surrounding property values. Detail information can be found here: https://www.globalenergyinstitute.org/one-more-pipeline-myth-debunked

Reference:

  1. https://www.canadianenergycentre.ca/a-matter-of-fact-mythbusting-on-keystone-xl/
  2. https://www.oilsandsmagazine.com/news/2017/1/24/dispelling-5-keystone-xl-myths-propagated-by-fake-news-media-outlets
  3. https://www.globalenergyinstitute.org/benefits-keystone-xl
  4. http://www.sdoil.org/education/pipelines/pipelines-myths-and-facts