Oil pipeline promises big impact

Montana State Roundup

Published May 1, 2009  | May 2009 issue

Local officials along the route of a proposed oil pipeline are excited about the financial impact of the project on rural eastern Montana.

The governor's office has estimated that the Keystone XL Pipeline, a $7.2 billion project that would carry crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, could generate up to $58 million annually in property taxes in six Montana counties crossed by the pipeline. In addition, the project is expected to create scores of permanent, well-paying jobs for maintenance of seven pumping stations planned for the Montana portion of the line.

But the pipeline, a joint venture of TransCanada PipeLines and ConocoPhillips, is far from a done deal. Landowners have voiced concern about compensation for production losses and easement restrictions, and have joined environmental groups in questioning the planned use of thinner-walled pipe than is the standard for liquid pipelines.

Before construction can begin—tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2010 or the following spring—the U.S. Department of State, Canada's National Energy Board and other federal, state and local regulators must sign off on the project.

Phil Davies