Monday, January 25, 2010

Montana governor wants access to TransCanada oil pipeline

HELENA - Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said on Jan. 20 that he wants oil companies in his state and neighboring North Dakota to be able to tap into a proposed TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline that will run from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Schweitzer has asked the state Public Service Commission to investigate whether the state has authority to force Calgary-based TransCanada to allow an "onramp" for the region's oil near Baker.
That could help oil companies in the two states get better prices for their fuel, which is now often sold at a discount because of shipping constraints, Schweitzer said.
Final approval is pending for TransCanada's 1,980-mile Keystone XL Pipeline. The company hopes to start construction sometime this year.
"This is a pre-emptive move to make sure Montana oil producers get market price for their oil," Schweitzer said. "In eastern Montana and western North Dakota, we're getting discounts of $8 to $12" per barrel below market prices.
Schweitzer said a Montana "onramp" for the pipeline also could encourage new drilling. Exploration lagged in recent months due to the ailing economy and a temporary drop in oil prices.

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