Super High Tech Keystone Pipeline Done Sprung a (nother) Leak

The stretch of pipeline has closed for 5 days due to a leak.  But wait, didn’t they say….

South Dakota Pipeline Leak South Dakota Farmer Loren Schultz discovered the oil leak on his property and after while TransCanada sent a guy over. Now they are digging and digging.

The yearslong, heated debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline took on a life of its own and often spun off into verbiage that had more to do with whether or not you hated Obama than actual energy topics (see below).

One of the skipped-over realities was that hundreds of miles of pipeline have already been laid on this side of the border because State Department approval was not required to ram it through local opposition. But before those miles were laid, TransCanada (the Canadian company dedicated to reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil) made all kinds of assurances about how their new fangled technology was going to provide all kinds of fail safes and early warnings that would make the kinds of spills that mark their corporate history a thing of the past (as all history is).

But when the oil started gushing from the pipe, it took a local farmer near Freeman South Dakota to notice that the Keystone had mysteriously leaked at least 17,000 gallons of Bakken crude into one of his crop fields. And now he is not a happy farmer, and unhappy farmers can’t grow happy crops.

TransCanada has been checking into the problem for several days to discover the cause, but are confident there is no environment damage. Of course, they have been confident about lots of things over the years, without any clear basis in fact. For example, the first thing they said in the early stages of this incident was that there didn’t appear to be much of a spill. But now, that seems to be something like an error. The original TrannyCan estimate was 187 gallons, about enough to fill up your Suburban twice.

One of the problems is that the pipeline is underground, so it’s hard to actually tell what muck is leaking into the aquifers. That accounts for all that earth moving equipment in the photo above.

Here is some more background on the Keystone XL, TransCanada and pipelines in general:

1. The Editorial Board has always been fascinated by the “patriotic” aspect of the XL discussions. The implication, as always, it that you are unAmerican if you oppose oil and gas (and even worse, favor solar and wind). It did not seem to sink in that Canada is not in America and therefore, not American.

1A. Back when TransCanada was confident that southern leg was going to get approval, they sent goons into Nebraska and other states and threatened landowners – may of them farmers – with imminent domain and other consequences if the landowners refused. The mostly Republican landowners rose up in a grass roots rebellion to fight the Canadian invaders.

1B. During the PR battle over the XL pipeline huge sums of money were spent by the usual suspects to convince the public that the pipeline would lower gas prices. The XL section was never built, and yet gasoline prices are at historic lows. Whatup?

1C. In Oct 2013, a section of TransCanada’s North Central Corridor methane gas line blew up near Fort McMurray.

1.D. The original section of the Keystone tar sands pipeline sprang at least two leaks in 2o11: 2, 100 gallons of crude in Kansas and 21,000 gallons in North Dakota.

2. Enbridge, the nice Canadians responsible for the devastating million gallon tar sands toxic muck spill into the Kalamazoo River, is trying to build a new pipeline across the Straits of Mackinac (Line 5). The effects of a spill there are incalculable. Enbridge deploys all the sooper dooper sophisticated spill detection technology as TrannyCan.

3. In 2014, Canada’s National Energy Board found TransCanada non-compliant in four operational categories: hazard identification, risk assessment and control; operational control in upset or abnormal operating condition; inspection, measurement and monitoring, and management review.

4. Last year in North Dakota, a Tesoro pipeline spilled 20,000 barrels, or about 840,000 gallons into a wheat field. The pipeline company did not discover the breach in this case either, the farmer did.

For detailed listings of all the major pipeline leaks and explosions you never hear about, be sure to visit the CapMap Oil ScrewUp Archives.

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