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TransCanada considering link from Bakken to Gulf Coast

World Pipelines,

Following President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL project, TransCanada Corp. may be considering a shorter pipeline path, bringing oil from Montana's Bakken Shale to refiners in the Gulf of Mexico.

"There certainly is a potential opportunity to connect the Bakken to the Gulf Coast," Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's President of Energy and Oil Pipelines, said recently. "That is obviously something we'll be looking into over the next few weeks."

The rejected US$ 7 billion Keystone XL proposal to bring crude from Canada's oilsands to the Gulf required US approval because it crossed an international border. Keystone XL would have carried as much as 830 000 bpd from Canada's oilsands and the Bakken field along a 1661 mile (2673 km) path to Texas refineries.

According to a 2008 US Geological Survey report, the Bakken Shale is estimated to hold as much as 4.3 billion bbls of technically recoverable oil in North Dakota and Montana. Oil production in North Dakota surged 42% to 510 000 bpd last November, which exceeds the output of Ecuador.

According to Edward Morse, Managing Director of Commodities Research for Citigroup Inc., production in the Bakken field may reach 750 000 bpd in 2012.

Changing the scope of the project would allow TransCanada to use existing pipe materials and current rights-of-way. Pourbaix added that the company might apply later for federal permission to connect the pipeline to the Canadian oilsands and complete the Keystone XL pipeline as originally envisioned.

"We believe there may be the potential to accelerate the construction of some elements of the pipeline," Pourbaix told reporters.

The pipeline has support in Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. "There's no bigger advocate for the Keystone pipeline than me," Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has said. "We have plenty of oil in Montana, we need the ability to get it to market."

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