As it stands, most of the major pipeline companies involved in the Keystone XL project are now working on their own designs for the pipeline that would carry oil from Canada’s oil sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
The companies are trying to determine which routes would be most cost-effective, with some companies even going so far as to try to use existing pipelines to carry the oil instead.
But even the companies that are planning to build pipelines to transport oil from Alberta to Texas are struggling with the logistical challenges of a pipeline system that is nearly a thousand miles long and has to cross a vast stretch of land and a river system that isn’t always clear.
The Keystone XL is a major challenge to any pipeline project, even the ones that might otherwise be completed in a few years.
“The pipeline is a very complex and complex engineering project,” said Michael Shellenberger, a senior director for the Energy & Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank in Washington, D.C. “We’re not looking at an easy, fast solution.
We’re looking at a very challenging and difficult one.”
The pipeline itself is an engineering marvel, but the process of building it also raises significant safety concerns.
Keystone XL would carry crude from Canada to refiners in the Gulf of Mexico, but it would also carry crude that has to be extracted and refined by oil companies and refineries in the United States, where the crude is shipped to be refined.
The crude would be carried in tankers, often known as barge ships.
The barge’s cargo would then be loaded onto tankers and sent on to refiner terminals in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and elsewhere, where refiners process the oil and ship it to customers.
The pipelines also would carry other crude to the Gulf, which is where it would then go on to be shipped to U.S. refineries.
Because the barge companies have no physical presence in the area, the companies can’t be required to carry oil across the United State, a crucial element of the Keystone pipeline.
And because Keystone XL could carry up to 300,000 barrels of oil a day, the risk of a spill or explosion from the crude could be high, as well.
One of the main challenges for the companies involved is that there is little evidence that a pipeline is needed to carry all the oil required to create a pipeline in the first place.
Even if all of the crude was diverted from the Gulf to Texas, the oil would still have to be processed by refineries before it can be sent on its way to the refineries, and a pipeline that had been built to carry only oil from the Canadian tar sands would not work in the absence of a crude pipeline.
There are a number of potential problems with the KeystoneXL pipeline, according to a report by the U.K.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a research and policy organization.
If the Keystone Pipeline were to break, it would have the potential to contaminate the Gulf with potentially lethal amounts of oil.
It would also be much more difficult to build than the Keystone, since the proposed route would have to cross the landlocked gulf.
In addition, the pipeline would have an even more complex construction process than Keystone, which would have required much more time and resources, Shellenberg said.
Another problem with KeystoneXL is that it would be built on the Gulf and then shipped to Texas.
That means the Gulf would be affected by the spill, which has already caused significant damage to nearby communities.
It’s not just the risk that the oil from KeystoneXL would be spilled, however.
The pipeline would also have to pass through the Gulf’s shallow waters, which are often more polluted than the deep waters of the gulf, where many of the oil is produced.
And it would likely be more expensive to build the Keystone than the pipeline built by BP, which had a $7 billion cost overrun on the project in 2010.
A pipeline that carries oil is much more expensive than one that carries a natural gas pipeline, which does not require any oil.
KeystoneXL will cost billions more to build, Shelleberger said, and could potentially run into more legal challenges than Keystone.
As it stands now, the Keystone route is the only one that will transport crude oil from North Dakota to refining facilities along the Texas Gulf Coast, and only the first phase of the pipeline.
If KeystoneXL were to go forward, it’s possible that the entire pipeline would eventually be constructed, but that is unlikely because there are no major oil refineries that could handle the heavy crude oil that KeystoneXL could carry.
To see how KeystoneXL and the pipeline it is based on compare, watch the video above.