Pickens, Pipeline, Pet Coke
In the Calgary Herald, T. Boone Pickens writes, an OpEd, Calgary, I’m so sorry about the Keystone pipeline:
Because the pipeline crosses national boundaries, the State Department is charged with producing reports. Yet, after State made its report, the White House went “agency shopping” and asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take another look at Keystone. To no one’s surprise, the EPA fired off a letter objecting to pipeline construction, citing concerns of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Not once does Pickens mention that a primary objection to the KXL is that it will be carrying dilbit – a much hotter, more toxic raw material than ordinary crude oil – across the Ogallala Aquifer.
The problem with the EPA’s math is that Canadians don’t need permission from the U.S. to recover that oil and sell it. Canadians will extract it and ship it overland by train or via pipeline and tanker, not south to the United States, but west to Asia, or elsewhere. When oil prices come back up, Korea, Japan, China and others will benefit from the Canadian oilsands, not the U.S.
Pickens fails to mention that even with the KXL in place, all the oil from that dilbit will be shipped to Asia anyway. Nor does he mention that Canada does not currently have refineries with coker units needed to process the comparatively dirty dilbit. The US does have refineries with coker units near the Gulf of Mexico, but such refining would lead to additional carbon in the atmosphere both in the US and abroad.
Roughly 15% of dilbit ends up as a petroleum coke byproduct. ‘Pet coke’ is like a charcoal containing heavy metals, sulphur and other impurities removed from dilbit during the coking part of the refining process. Pet coke can be used as an alternative fuel in coal-fired powerplants, but produces 5 – 10% more greenhouse gasses than coal. Pet coke is often sold by North American firms to Asian and South American firms for energy production.
Pet Coke could be called Pet Koch, because the largest US sellers are Koch Carbon, owned by Charles and David Koch, and Oxbow Corporation, owned by William I Koch.