TransCanada has confirmed its Keystone Pipeline has leaked an estimated 795,000 litres of oil, about 5,000 barrels, in South Dakota.
Industry advisor Bill Gwozd told CityNews one of the big challenges here is the sheer volume of the spill, saying the pipe obviously failed.
“Did it fail because someone actually sabotaged it, actually dug up and hit it?” he asked. “The aerial photos suggest that’s not the case, it looks like it’s buried so it’s probably a cause in the welding process or the pipe manufacturer.”
He said that would reflect poorly on the owner of the pipeline.
Another key aspect the commission will likely look at is how long it took to turn off the leaking pipe.
“When you talk about 15 or 20 minutes to shut a pipeline down, what’s normal?” queried Gwozd. “To the average person that sounds good but how do we know that’s good, can you do it in 10 minutes or 5 minutes?”
Right now there is no benchmark for cut-off times so how TransCanada performed in this instance is open for interpretation.
The bottom line is this is not good news heading into a hearing.
“Environmentalists and other people that don’t want the pipeline going through will protest, they’ll complain, they’ll say here’s another cause, here’s another reason not to build the pipeline,” said Gwozd.
On the other hand, the U.S. needs Canadian oil.
Keystone XL has the support of U.S. President Donald Trump and most Republican politicians, but it has faced years of vocal opposition in Nebraska.
Gwozd expected TransCanada will release all the spill details in the next couple weeks.