In the weeks following U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to scrap the Keystone XL oil pipeline, posts on social media have claimed that the project “was in Phase 4 & just about completed” and that it had been “paid for” by the time Biden “pulled the plug.” While it is true that the project had secured funding, which was largely expected to be paid out in 2021 and 2022, the claim is partly false, as less than 10% of the pipeline had been built by the time Biden formally revoked the permit.
Examples of posts making this claim can be found here , here and here .
These posts are referring to the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project cancelled by Biden on his first day in office on Jan. 21, 2021, dealing a death blow to a long-gestating project that would have carried 830,000 barrels per day of heavy oil-sands crude from Alberta to Nebraska (here).
Environmental activists and indigenous communities hailed the cancellation, and traders and analysts said U.S.-Canada pipelines will have more than enough capacity to handle increasing volumes of crude out of Canada, the primary foreign supplier of oil to the United States (here).
A map of the Keystone XL’s route alongside the existing Keystone Pipeline System, operating since 2010, can be seen here .
HOW FAR ALONG WAS CONSTRUCTION?
By claiming that the project was in “Phase 4” of construction, the posts seem to conflate the Keystone XL Pipeline with the larger Keystone Pipeline System.
Owned by North American company TC Energy, the Keystone XL Pipeline “is the fourth phase of the Keystone Pipeline System,” an existing 2,687-mile pipeline whose Canadian portion “runs from Hardisty, Alberta, east into Manitoba where it turns south and crosses the border into North Dakota,” according to the company’s website (here).
In the United States, the existing Keystone Pipeline System runs from the North Dakota border “south through South Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska, where it splits – one arm running east through Missouri for deliveries into Wood River and Patoka, Ill., with the other running south through Oklahoma to Cushing and onward to Port Arthur and Houston, Texas.”
The Keystone XL Pipeline, a planned extension to this larger system that would run 1,210 miles from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, is considered “the fourth phase of the Keystone Pipeline System” (www.keystonexl.com/about/).
Reuters spoke via email with James Stevenson, a spokesperson for the Canada Energy Regulator, which oversees the Canadian portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline (here). Stevenson confirmed that as of late 2020, about 152 kilometers, or 93 miles, of pipeline had been laid near the U.S.-Canada border.
Therefore, about 8% of the planned 1,210-mile XL extension had been built by the time President Biden revoked the permit.
HOW MUCH FUNDING HAD THE PROJECT SECURED?
According to a March 2020 TC Energy press release, the estimated cost of the project was to be $8 billion (here).
At the time of the press release, the Government of Alberta had invested $1.1 billion in the project, largely covering the cost of construction through the end of 2020, according to TC Energy.
The press release also stated that the remaining $6.9 billion needed for construction was expected “to be largely made in 2021 and 2022 and funded through the combination of a US$4.2 billion project level credit facility to be fully guaranteed by the Government of Alberta and a US$2.7 billion investment by TC Energy.”
In other words, 14% of the investment was made in 2020, with the remaining 86% secured and expected to be paid in 2021 and 2022.
Seeking comment on whether additional funds had been invested between Jan. 1, 2021 and Jan. 20, 2021 Reuters reached out to TC Energy but did not receive a response in time for this article’s publication.
The Reuters Fact Check team previously debunked social media claims surrounding the Keystone XL Pipeline, here .
Partly false. Though the Keystone Pipeline XL had secured full funding through 2022, only 8% of it had been built by the time President Biden revoked the project’s permit in the United States.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.