Former TransCanada CEO on next steps for Keystone XL
Former TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Hal Kvisle doesn’t think regulators appreciate how hard it is to reroute a pipeline plan.
In an interview on BNN, Kvisle said the Nebraska Public Safety Commission’s decision that his former firm can proceed with Keystone XL, but on a different route, underestimates the complexity of planning a project.
“There’s always some little wrinkle in these regulatory rulings, and I’m not sure that regulators sometimes appreciate how complicated it makes execution of the project,” he said.
“Just this little bit of changing the route to move it a little further to the east so some of it can [run parallel] with the existing Keystone pipeline, that creates complications and means further delay.”
The approved route is TransCanada’s third choice, after the Obama Administration shot down a plan to run the pipeline in a straight line from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. This time around, the Nebraska PSC determined TransCanada’s preferred route wasn’t as attractive as the so-called Mainline Alternative Route. The route adds about five miles of pipeline to TransCanada’s plan, along with an additional pumping station.
Kvisle said delays from examining the alternate route could increase the odds of opponents filing legal challenges to the approval, as it will take longer for TransCanada to commence construction.
“It opens the door to further legal interventions, court rulings, things like that. So I think TransCanada is being appropriately cautious here in not announcing that they're going to commence construction tomorrow,” he said. “There could be another year of this kind of jousting ahead before the shovels actually hit the ground.”
While oil market dynamics have changed dramatically over the course of the near-decade since Keystone XL was first proposed, Kvisle believes the project is still important.
“I believe Canada does need Keystone XL. People will add up the numbers and cut the numbers very finely to say that if Trans Mountain goes ahead and Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement goes ahead, we’ll have adequate capacity,” he said. “But I think what a lot of the simple arithmetic overlooks is the need for spare capacity.”
“We need all three of those pipelines.”