Oil Flows Through Keystone

Beneath the skin of Buchanan County, a new artery of energy now flows.

The Keystone pipeline, fetching crude oil from the northern ranges of Alberta, Canada, and transporting it to an Illinois refinery, has fossil fuel in motion.

A company spokesman said Tuesday that 8 million gallons are in the pipe, having already reached Missouri, and plans call for full operation by later this month.

TransCanada, the pipeline company, hopes 435,000 barrels of crude will move through the pipe daily.

In this region, the Keystone mainline cut a path through Buchanan, Clinton and Caldwell counties in Missouri and Nemaha, Brown and Doniphan counties in Kansas. The pipeline, constructed in this area last year, means millions of dollars in utility taxes in counties it runs through.

Terry Cunha, a TransCanada spokesman, said the project went as planned, an enterprise that included 1,073 miles of new 30-inch diameter pipe buried in the United States. It involved coordination of the U.S. State Department, numerous other government agencies and environmental groups and the public.

"We've been able to address any issues, resolve those and construct our project and get it done within budget and on time," he said.

The mainline destination is the Wood River refinery in Illinois and a storage facility in Patoka. Another phase of the pipeline system will run from Nebraska to Oklahoma, set for operation in 2011, and an expansion to the Gulf Coast, with construction hoped for next year.

Last month, TransCanada reached an agreement with Buchanan County officials to pay $134,000 for damages done to county roads during the construction work.

Copyright (c) 2010, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.