The Keystone XL pipeline has come to Texas. The controversial project that will bring heavy oil mined from sand pits in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast has been waiting on presidential approval for years. But in the meantime, the company has gone ahead and built the stretch of pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas.
On Saturday morning, TransCanada, the Calgary-based company behind the project, put the first barrels of oil into the pipeline. It’s part of a testing phase expected to last several weeks. Over that time, some three million barrels of oil will flow through the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas to prepare for a full launch, which could come in early January.
“We are not going to be in a position to provide an update on when the Gulf Coast Project will go into commercial service,” says TransCanada spokesperson Shawn Howard. “We have provided general guidance to our customers, based on the contracts we have in place with them.”
The southern leg of the Keystone XL will tie into the existing Keystone pipeline that already runs to Canada, bringing up to 700,000 barrels of oil a day to refineries in Texas.
While the portion of the pipeline that will cross from Canada into the U.S. and down to Oklahoma still needs presidential approval, this southern leg can go ahead without it. The pipeline faces opposition from environmental groups and have several lawsuits pending by private landowners along the route who are fighting the company’s claims of eminent domain.
For more on the pipeline, read our topic page: What is the Keystone XL Pipeline?