US pipeline spill intensifies debate around imminent Keystone XL decision

A major oil pipeline in the US spilled 5,000 barrels of oil in South Dakota, just days before officials in Nebraska meet to discuss whether to approve another pipeline project in the region.

The Keystone pipeline spill has heightened the public spotlight on the state government’s imminent decision regarding the fate of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, a project proposed by TransCanada Corp.

The Calgary-based company said it eventually contained the leak and was investigating the cause, however opponents and environmental groups have been quick to highlight the damage the spill has already caused.

“Pipelines are basically plumbing; and plumbing leaks. It comes as no surprise,” said Tom Genung, a resident near the proposed Keystone XL route in Holt County, Nebraska.

Keystone currently carries 590,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to markets in the US, while Keystone XL is set to carry 800,000 bpd from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.

Officials in Nebraska will meet on Monday before reaching a decision on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.