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New Bakken Shale Pipeline to Cushing, OK in the Works

A Cross-Post from DeSmogBlog

The controversy over TransCanada‘s Keystone XL pipeline has raged on for years now, with no end in sight.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands crude from the tar sands epicenter of the world in Alberta, Canada, take it down to Cushing, OK, and then eventually down to Port Arthur, TX, where it will be refined and placed on the lucrative oil export market.

While Republicans continue to try to make Keystone XL a campaign issue, President Obama has officially put the fate of the pipeline on the backburner until after the November 2012 U.S. elections.

But this has not stopped other key pipelines and pipeline extensions from being built “in the meantime, in between time,” as the song lyrics made famous by the classic novel, The Great Gatsby, go.

Most recently in the limelight: Obama’s late-March approval of the TransCanada Cushing Extension, which extends from Cushing, OK — the self-proclaimed “pipeline crossroads of the world” — to Port Arthur, TX, where oil would be placed on the global export market.

Now, another key pipeline proposal is in the works, one that would move unconventional oil and gas obtained via the problematic hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin southward to Cushing, where it would then be moved to Port Arthur and also placed on the global export market. Another portion of that pipeline would move the oil and gas westward toward Coos Bay, Oregon, where it would also be exported to the highest bidder.Unknown Object

A review, then, is in order.

Enter the Bakken Crude Express Pipeline

On April 11, Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune reported “A natural gas company wants to build a 1,300-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from North Dakota through easternmost Wyoming on its way to the nation’s biggest storage terminal in central Oklahoma (Cushing).” The deal will cost somewhere between $1.5-1.8 billion, according to the Associated Press.

The company and name of the pipeline? Oneok Partners LP‘s Bakken Crude Express Pipeline. The pipeline essentially performs the same function TransCanada’s proposed but not yet approved portion of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, known in the business world as the Bakken Marketlink Project.

Oneok hopes the pipeline is in place and pumping out 200,000 barrels of oil per day “from the heart of North Dakota’s rich oil patch to the hub in Cushing, Okla” by 2015.

Opal, Wyoming: Where the Bakken Shale and Niobrara Shale Converge

The Bakken Crude Express isn’t the only one in play in this deal.

Oneock’s Bakken Pipeline, as well as Williams Company’s and Oneock’s Overland Pass Pipeline — which both co-own on a 50-50 joint venture basis — are also part of this deal and are all key pieces of the oil and gas industry’s big-picture pipeline infrastructure puzzle. [cont’d.]

(photo: Denys Prykhodov | Shutterstock)

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David Dayen

David Dayen