Would Keystone XL pipeline raise US gas prices?

That's what a consumer advocacy group argues, adding the project would mostly benefit multinational oil giants.

By Bruce Kennedy Jul 17, 2013 9:24AM

Shayne Walker, a weld inspector, fills out paperwork during construction of the Gulf Coast Project pipeline in Prague, Oklahoma, U.S., on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project
© Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWho actually benefits from the proposed Canada-to-U.S. Keystone XL pipeline?

TransCanada (TRP) says the planned, 1,179-mile-long pipeline would be able to move 830,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta's tar sands, as well as from producers in the booming Bakken formation oil fields of North Dakota and Montana, to the Gulf Coast and Midwestern refineries.

On its website, TransCanada proclaims the Keystone XL "will be the safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but it will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans."

But U.S. consumer advocate organization Consumer Watchdog begs to differ. Its latest report claims the Keystone XL pipeline will end up raising gasoline prices by up to 40 cents per gallon for U.S. drivers -- especially in the Midwest -- while having no long-term economic benefits for the U.S. economy.

Much of the Canadian oil in the pipeline, according to the report, would go "directly to Gulf Coast refineries owned by the same multinational companies investing in the tar sands," companies including Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Koch Industries, Marathon Oil (MRO) and Shell Oil (RDS/A). And those refineries, Consumer Watchdog says, would turn the crude in gasoline and diesel fuel for export.

"A vote for Keystone is a vote to raise gas prices on Americans and send the profits to a foreign oil company," billionaire Thomas Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management and an alternative energy advocate and investor, commented in Consumer Watchdog's press statement.

"The Consumer Watchdog reports makes clear that the Keystone XL Pipeline will lead to higher prices for American drivers at the pump," he said, "and increased profits for foreign oil interests at a time when our U.S. economy is still in recovery."

The Canadian government has made no bones about the importance of the Keystone XL to help export Canadian oil to non-U.S. markets. The Huffington Post quoted Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes saying the pipeline will help his nation "diversify away from the single continental market and be part of the global market."

The Obama Administration isn't expected to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until later this year or perhaps in early 2014. "The president has to be able to show that the administration looked under every stone to ensure it knew as much as it possibly could about the impact of Keystone," an unnamed U.S. official recently told Reuters.

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Jul 17, 2013 11:37AM
As a Nebraskan who is following the battle of rural Nebraska citizens vs. Keystone, I wouldn't be surprised if this struggle turns violent.  There are many residents of Holt County who aren't afraid to make sure things turn ugly (SEE: FIGHT OVER NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL IN BOYD, CO IN THE LATE 80'S EARLY 90'S).  Personally, I don't blame them one bit.  I wouldn't want a oil spill ruining my land either.  Wish the urban areas of the state would get behind the fight.  There is nothing good to come out of this for Nebraska in the long run and PLENTY of downside.

GO BOLD NEBRASKA!!! Keep fighting the good fight!

Jul 17, 2013 2:35PM

The best way to stop a pipeline is by leasing the easement. Not selling the easement. The pipeline company will never agree to a lease. Reasons being, By them owning the easement, they make one payment up front and nothing after that. It's just like owning the land but they don't have to pay taxes on it. The landowner does. Also, the pipeline may decide to sell space in the easement to other pipelines. He will get the money but the landowner gets nothing but a headache. Let's say a few years down the road, the oil wells dry up and the pipeline is no longer needed. It's still a valuable asset  to the pipeline company because it costs them nothing to keep  and they may get a chance to sell it in the future. They don't have to bother removing the pipeline either after it's no longer used. Now, if they had a payment to make each month or quarterly, even when the pipeline is not being used, then the pipeline becomes a liability and is not worth keeping the easement. They may as well give it back to the landowner. Also, with the income being produced by the easement, it becomes and asset to the landowner and appreciates the value of the land. Plus, the "LANDLORD" will have say-so as to the use of the easement and who can be on it. The landowner will have some control. The pipeline companies will never agree to that........ Have fun.

Jul 18, 2013 12:25PM
This is bull. There are no facts here to support the claim.

Here is a fact: It costs less to transport oil by pipeline then it does to transport by train or truck.

Another fact: That oil will not go from Canada to other countries tax free.

Jul 17, 2013 5:46PM

A couple comments make sense; But what we are missing are thousands of jobs initially and several leftover jobs afterwards...

Not all the transport would be going to the Gulf and refineries there, although much of it.

Other pipelines and storage would be spurred in/off.

Not everything, crude, refined crude, or other products would be leaving for far-a-way Ports.

Yes it would add to our energy independence and more then likely add to our product flow in the U.S.


I think the article is incorrect....And also at least one comment is coming from a "tree hugger" or environmentalist....Disguising themselves as an authorial on U.S. Pipelines and Infrastructure.

Along with Energy Services....But we are all entitled to our opinions.

Jul 17, 2013 9:36PM

I disagree with these activists. By transferring the oil to the United States, we would be less depended on foreign oil as in shipping. It cost a lot to ship the oil from one part of the world to another. With the Keystone Pipe Line, there will be no shipping cost. environmental activists do not get this.

So when they build a pipeline from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Enterprise, Mississippi so that the natural gas can be transferred to the main Dixie Pipe Line to the Northeast, did the price of natural gas go up? No! matter of fact, it went down. Also these people have to realize that these oil companies spot check from the air these gas lines. They also tell people what to listen for and to smell and to call the company right away.

A few people do not want the United States workers to have good jobs. They do not want the American worker to go back to work, but all the while they can get on these comment pages and complain of how people are living off the government without even considering that majority of the people in these United States would like to go back to work. You cannot have it both ways people.

Jul 17, 2013 8:09PM

SHAWN.....I retired 15 years ago, I have no dog in the Pipeline Fight.

I do have family that are Pipeliners....They have more work then they need...They don't care about the K-Line...

It would more then likely provide NEW jobs in the field...Young people coming to the workforce.

Management, Engineers down to Laborers...And hundreds of spin-offs or temporaries in X-ing areas.

Heavy equipment operators, and new equipment orders...It's a Big Job. Like major Hi-ways.



I am an investor in Pipelines, carrying oil/Ngas and products.

But it wouldn't make much difference in my investments either....So no dog.

Jul 17, 2013 8:13PM

Shawn, sorry. I forgot to mention oil and gas investments.

Yes that would probably be helpful to Companies we hold....So there we have a puppy.

Jul 17, 2013 5:58PM
And Dusty Guy...Look up some issues on Public Domain and maybe the Greater good.
Jul 17, 2013 11:25AM
this author obviously is an economist. More supply doesn't relate to higher gasoline prices. Need to be more accurate in reporting, a lot of people actually believe this reort.
Jul 17, 2013 5:56PM

Shawn, I can concur with your plight to a point...Good luck keeping up the fight..

But sadly when you or others threaten violence; You may end up in Prison as a domestic terrorist.

Although kudos for standing up as a Nebraskan..


At least it's an admission that Nebraska is mostly at fault for it not being built..

Many want to stick it to the President.

And Obama is not to blame, and part of the reason he stepped away temporarily as not to interfere.

Good luck, but also thank you for being honest. 

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