WASHINGTON Oct 15 The company leading the U.S.
oil boom in the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota said it would
be open to talks with the Keystone XL pipeline project on it
carrying a greater amount of domestic U.S. oil instead of
TransCanada Corp, the Alberta-based company that wants to
build the 800,000 barrels per day Keystone XL pipeline to help
link Canada's oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast, has
said the line would take only about 100,000 bpd of oil from the
Bakken oil fields.
Harold Hamm, chief executive and largest shareholder of
Continental Resources Inc, made headlines this summer
when he said the pipeline was no longer crucial because it would
take a relatively small amount of U.S. oil and because rail and
existing pipelines offered alternative ways to ship the oil.
On Tuesday, Hamm held out the possibility that Keystone
could become a more attractive project to Continental if
TransCanada decided to carry a greater percentage of Bakken oil.
"They have not talked to us about it, but we would hold that
discussion with them," Hamm told reporters in Washington.
Rail is currently moving large amounts of Bakken oil to
refineries on the East and West Coasts and also to plants in
Gulf Coast refineries are tooled to refine the type of heavy
oil found produced from Canada's oil sands, not the light sweet
crude found in Bakken. But that could change if Gulf Coast
refineries saw larger streams of Bakken oil headed south.
Continental has a contract with TransCanada for Keystone XL
to take some 35,000 bpd of its Bakken oil.
Hamm reiterated that if TransCanada sticks to its current
projections of carrying some 700,000 bpd of oil sands petroleum
the pipeline is not crucial for his company.
"At one time it would have been helpful, by the time it
would be built now I don't think it would be, so it's not
crucial to our company," said Hamm.
TransCanada was not immediately available to respond to
Oil analysts have said Hamm's downplaying of the importance
of Keystone XL could be an effort to drive transportation costs
lower by playing rail against the pipeline.
"Why wouldn't he want to save money by transiting crude via
Keystone? Of course he would, but he's not going to get deeper
savings by looking like he needs it," Kevin Book, an energy
policy analyst at ClearView Energy Partners said on Tuesday.
TransCanada's applications on the project have been in the
works for more than five years. The pipeline is opposed by
environmentalists who say the line would expand production of
oil sands, which have higher carbon dioxide emissions than the
average crude used in the United States.
President Barack Obama is not expected to decide on Keystone
XL until next year.