Welcome to 2013, readers. After a relaxing holiday break, we’re back to bring you another 12 issues of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines. The New Year has come, and we’re looking forward to big things in the pipeline industry.
Good news from the Cornhusker State, as the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) released its Final Evaluation Report of the Keystone pipeline. The proposed reroute reduces the impact to sensitive environmental areas, such as the Sand Hills region and the Ogallala Aquifer. According to the report, the Nebraska portion of the Keystone XL project will be broken up into three 90-mile spreads that separate crews will work on simultaneously, with a proposed completion time of six to eight months. Now, it’s up to Gov. Dave Heineman to sign off on the reroute and help get this project started. TransCanada still awaits approval of its Presidential Permit.
With the third biggest supply of oil in Canada and myriad shale oil and natural gas resources throughout North America, the time is right for what T. Boone Pickens calls a “North American energy alliance” between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The notion of energy independence has become passé in an ever expanding global marketplace. A strong alliance that could rival OPEC would set up North America for sustained energy security.
As the global economy remains mired in a nebula of uncertainty, a North American energy alliance would provide its members a measure of confidence. Projects, such as the Keystone XL, to expand and improve the continental energy transportation infrastructure would create jobs and provide a financial boost to all three countries. Working in concert to develop energy resources and drive economic growth, North America could become a beacon of financial hope for the world to see.
Pickens recently proposed another idea that could help spur economic growth in the United States from the vast shale plays, suggesting that states take advantage of the “21st century gold rush.
“Over the past four years, the ability to profitably recover oil and gas from shale deposits has turned natural gas from a closely guarded resource to an abundance that ranges from a 100 to 150 year supply depending upon the study,” Pickens wrote in a Dec. 11 post on the business networking website LinkedIN, in a series call “50 Big Ideas for 2013.”
The development of energy resources from shale deposits has added numerous jobs across the United States, and these jobs go beyond those created at the wellhead, Pickens wrote. Jobs are also being created in the towns that surround the field to supply food and sundries to the oil and gas community. However, to take further advantage of the vast energy supply from shale reserves, there needs to be more demand for natural gas.
“The most efficient way to do that is to move our fleet of heavy-duty trucks from diesel that is largely imported from OPEC to natural gas that is produced in North America,” Pickens says. Furthermore, natural gas refueling facilities will need to be established along the interstate highway system. He suggests that governors will want to get in on the natural gas boom by enticing truckers to use routes through their states and by converting state vehicle fleets to natural gas. Such a move would generate revenue through commerce, rather than by raising taxes.
Developing a focused energy policy that takes advantage of North America’s vast and proven reserves is a smart move that Canadian, U.S. and Mexican leaders must consider. Let this New Year bring a renewed hope for the energy industry and the North American economy.