Bypassing Keystone: Canadian Firm Uses Loophole to Ship Oil Sands to U.S.

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Instead of waiting to obtain a “presidential permit” to ship oil sands from Canada to the United States, one Canadian firm has found a workaround, and environmental groups aren’t happy about it.

Pipeline operations giant Enbridge has figured out how to avoid having to go through the regulatory process with the U.S. State Department for approval of an oil sands pipeline.

According to EnergyWire, the company plans to build several interconnections on either side of the border between Manitoba and Minnesota. The interconnections will allow the company to transfer heavy oil from its Alberta Clipper pipeline to another pipeline known as “Line 3.” It will then be transferred back to the Alberta Clipper line once it is safely across the border in Minnesota.

The Line 3 pipeline would do the same. It is much older and normally does not run at full capacity. A 17.5-mile stretch of the pipeline was retrofitted in order to handle the heavier oil sands from the Alberta Clipper. The lighter oil from Line 3 would be switched over to the Alberta Clipper pipeline until it crosses the border, and then switched back.

The result will be the ability to increase the flow of oil sands to the United States by an additional 75,000 barrels per day without having to obtain White House approval. Both pipelines would meet regulatory requirements under existing permits.