U.S. leg of Keystone XL nearly complete

July 8, 2013 at 7:13 AM

HOUSTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Most of the southern U.S. leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas is complete, a spokesman for pipeline company TransCanada said.

TransCanada needs U.S. approval to build the Keystone XL from Alberta to the United States because it would cross national borders. The so-called Gulf Coast Pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to Texas refineries does not require such approval.

TransCanada spokesman Grady Semmens said about 80 percent of the 450-mile pipeline has been completed so far this year.

Semmens told FuelFix, an energy blog of the Houston Chronicle, inspections and testing were the next steps for the southern U.S. project.

"Testing is well under way, and commissioning needs to be done prior to any oil being loaded into the pipeline to bring it into commercial service," he was quoted as saying Friday. "The Gulf Coast Pipeline is over 80 percent complete."

Critics opposing the project have moved to block the pipeline's construction. They are concerned about potential environmental issues stemming from Canadian oil production. Oil derived from Alberta is considered more carbon-intensive than conventional crude oil.

The Gulf Coast project should be able to deliver as much as 700,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of the year.

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