BILLINGS - Oil is set to flow through the Keystone Pipeline and across Montana soil as early as 2019.
On Thursday at the Montana Energy Summit, Russell Girling, CEO of TransCanada, said in no uncertain terms that the Keystone pipeline has the approval it needs across all three American states and two Canadian provinces to get started on making the pipeline fully operational.
He also said that 20 year contracts are in place with reliable and proven producers to keep oil flowing through the pipeline for the foreseeable future.
As oil production grows in both Canada and the United States, so too do the opportunities for continental self sufficiency. Girling said the Keystone project allows for domestically produced oil to be spread throughout the country as well as transported to export points, putting money into the pockets of domestic producers.
He stressed the safety of pipelines in their modern state. Pipeline failure has been reduced 94 percent in the thirty year period from 1984-2014.
Much of the improvement has to do with the technology surrounding the passage of rivers and streams. Pipelines are now buried more than 50 feet below the riverbed such that in the event of a leak it would not affect the body of water and could be contained with less environmental impact.
Girling also discussed the dollars and cents of the project. The number? $80 million. That is the projected annual tax windfall for the state of Montana from the operation of the Keystone pipeline here on Montana soil.
Sixty-two million of that would go to the counties in which the pipeline operates, a huge boon to the budgets of eastern Montana county commissioners. The rest would end up in state coffers.
The Bakken oil area would have an on-ramp to the pipeline and is forecast to contribute 100,000 barrels a day to the oil flowing through the pipeline.
Construction is scheduled to start on the remaining sections of the Keystone pipeline in 2019 and run through 2020.
Denbury Resources also made news at the Energy Summit in Billings. President and CEO Chris Kendall announced they will invest $200 to $300 million to develop a pipeline in southeastern Montana.
The pipeline would connect the Cedar Creek Anticline oil producing field to the Greencore pipeline. Kendall said they hope to start laying pipe next year and be in full operation by 2021.
Denbury is currently Montana’s largest oil producer. The company uses CO2 to extract more oil from existing wells.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., sponsored and hosted the summit. He said some of the takeaways are the opportunities overseas with Japan and South Korea and the demand for U.S. energy.
"The more energy that we can supply to those critical trading partners, the more of that comes from Montana instead of the middle east, that's good for our economy, for our jobs," Daines said. "And frankly for national security and the geopolitical security issue that we face right now with the challenges of North Korea and Iran. America's moving towards independence, removing that dependency on the middle east. Now we have a chance to be globally energy dominant. That's a great position to be in as a nation and it's a great position to be in for Montana."