* Montana oil spill focuses attention on Keystone XL
* Company says takes steps to ensure river safety
* NRDC says XL a threat to Yellowstone River
By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta, July 5 TransCanada Corp
(TRP.TO) said on Tuesday that Exxon Mobil's (XOM.N)
1,000-barrel oil spill into the Yellowstone River will not
derail its plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline, but
environmentalists promised renewed pressure to block approval.
TransCanada is awaiting U.S. State Department approval to
build the $7 billion Keystone XL line, which would carry
700,000 barrels per day of crude oil to the refining hub on the
Gulf of Mexico coast from the Canadian province of Alberta. A
final decision on the company's application is expected by year
"Any time something like (the Exxon spill) happens it
brings more attention to the pipeline industry," said Terry
Cunha, a spokesman for TransCanada. "But we'll continue to move
along with the process ... and address any issues the
Department of State may have as we move forward."
Environmental groups, some legislators and landowners along
the line's planned route are pressing the Obama Administration
to deny TransCanada's application, spurred by worries about the
line's safety following BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the
20,000 barrel spill from an Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) pipeline in
Michigan last year, and well-publicized leaks from
TransCanada's existing Keystone system.
The Saturday spill from an Exxon line under the
rain-swollen Yellowstone River gives the line's opponents
another argument against approving Keystone XL, since
TransCanada plans to run the line underneath the river.
"The Yellowstone is one of our last truly wild rivers,"
said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the international
program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Putting it at risk with an even-more corrosive and liable
to spill or leak pipeline like the Keystone XL tar sands
pipeline is something that both Montana and the federal
government are going to be taking a hard look at, I think."
TransCanada disputes claims that crude from Alberta's oil
sands is more corrosive than any other type of oil. It also
says that the line will be buried well under the Yellowstone
river, use thicker steel and operate at lower-than-allowed
"The pipeline would be a minimum of 25 feet below the
riverbed," Cunha said. "Additionally, entry and exit points for
the crossing would be extended away from the banks for the
river. Thus, any risk of scour or erosion exposing the pipe is
A number of pipelines already carry Canadian oil across the
the Yellowstone, including Kinder Morgan Energy Partners'
KMP.N 280,000 bpd Express Pipeline and the Western Corridor
pipeline system operated by Plains All American Pipeline LP
(PAA.N), which can ship as much as 33,900 bpd. Those lines
carry crude to refineries in the U.S. Midwest and Rocky
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer said on Monday
authorities would review the safety of oil and gas pipelines
that cross waterways in the state. [ID:nNN1E7630S]
Schweitzer said the pipeline inspections -- the second
round he has called for in as many months -- will assess the
risk of ruptures and leaks in 88 sections of pipeline that
cross rivers and streams in the state.
Before the spill however, Schweitzer backed construction of
the Keystone XL line since Montana oil producers will have
access to the line to ship their oil.
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway)