RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Horn reports: "Although TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has received the lion's share of media attention, another key border-crossing pipeline benefiting tar sands producers was approved on November 19 by the U.S. State Department."

The Pacific Connector may export fracked natural gas to Asia. (photo: East Bay Express)
The Pacific Connector may export fracked natural gas to Asia. (photo: East Bay Express)

Obama Approves Major Border-Crossing Fracked Gas Pipeline Used to Dilute Tar Sands

By Steve Horn, DeSmog Blog

29 November 13


lthough TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has received the lion's share of media attention, another key border-crossing pipeline benefitting tar sands producers was approved on November 19 by the U.S. State Department.

Enter Cochin, Kinder Morgan's 1,900-mile proposed pipeline to transport gas produced via the controversial hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") of the Eagle Ford Shale basin in Texas north through Kankakee, Illinois, and eventually into Alberta, Canada, the home of the tar sands.

Like Keystone XL, the pipeline proposal requires U.S. State Department approval because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border. Unlike Keystone XL - which would carry diluted tar sands diluted bitumen ("dilbit") south to the Gulf Coast - Kinder Morgan's Cochin pipeline would carry the gas condensate (diluent) used to dilute the bitumen north to the tar sands.

"The decision allows Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC to proceed with a $260 million plan to reverse and expand an existing pipeline to carry an initial 95,000 barrels a day of condensate," the Financial Post wrote.

"The extra-thick oil is typically cut with 30% condensate so it can move in pipelines. By 2035, producers could require 893,000 barrels a day of the ultra-light oil, with imports making up 786,000 barrels of the total."

Increased demand for diluent among Alberta's tar sands producers has created a growing market for U.S. producers of natural gas liquids, particularly for fracked gas producers.

"Total US natural gasoline exports reached a record volume of 179,000 barrels per day in February as Canada's thirst for oil sand diluent ramped up," explained a May 2013 article appearing in Platts. "US natural gasoline production is forecast to increase to roughly 450,000 b/d by 2020."

Before Eagle Ford, Kinder Morgan Targeted Marcellus

Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin was Kinder Morgan's first choice pick for sourcing tar sands diluent for export to Alberta. It wasn't until that plan failed that the Eagle Ford Shale basin in Texas became Plan B.

Known then as the Kinder Morgan Cochin Marcellus Lateral Project proposal, the project fell by the wayside in February 2012.

"The company's Cochin Marcellus Lateral Pipeline would have started in Marshall County, West Virginia, and transported natural gas liquids from the Marcellus producing region of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio," wrote the Mount Vernon News of the canned project. [It] would [then] carry the [natural gas] liquids to processing plants and other petrochemical facilities in Illinois and Canada."

"Kinder Magic": More to Come?

Industry market trends publication RBN Energy described Kinder Morgan's dominance of the tar sands diluent market as "Kinder Magic" in a January 2013 article.

"These are still early days for the developing condensate business in the Gulf Coast region," RBN Energy's Sandy Fielden wrote. "Plains All American and Kinder Morgan are developing the potential to deliver at least 170,000 barrels per day of Eagle Ford condensate as diluent to the Canadian tar sand fields in Alberta by the middle of 2014."

Fielden explained we could see many more of these projects arise in the coming years.

"We have a sense that before too long there will be many more condensate infrastructure projects showing up like 'magic' in midstream company presentations."

While the industry press coverage sounds optimistic, it doesn't account for the concurrent rise of public opposition to dirty energy pipelines and expansion plans in the fracking and tar sands arenas, so only time will tell the fate of Cochin and its kin. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+16 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-29 11:30
Game over for the planet. Obama sold us out! Sorry Rev. Al Sharpton, no more MSNBC and all the propaganda. I'm very happy for RSN. Why? Did you get this report in your local newspaper? I give a monthly amount. Deducted automatically from my checking account.
+5 # ChickenBoo 2013-11-29 11:40
Quoting Eldon J. Bloedorn:
Game over for the planet. Obama sold us out!

>>>>Long time ago, Eldon, long time ago.
+6 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-29 13:42
Full implementation of the pipelines means we really will need the ACA to keep our citizens healthy. What a horrible mess!
+2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-30 15:54
Suppose for a moment we consider releasing carcinogenics into the air. The Keystone Pipeline would defintely do this not only upon a pipeleine break, leak but also due to refining the horrible tar sands crude from Alberta in and at our coastal refineries. Would not the release of these chemicals be considered chemical warfare against the American people? Especially when we are finally reducing our fossil fuel energy dependence? Was Canada smart enough to not build thir own ports and refineries to export this extremely dirty product. But left it up to the not so bright greedy U.S. oli people to dump on the american people.
+7 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-11-29 16:55
Except for certain politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, not one more dime to the Democratic Party. Not one. A few years ago, I changed my political registration to "Independent" and I'm a happier man for it.
-2 # handmjones 2013-11-29 13:20
Did the US sign a free trade agreement or not? Don't want carbon emissions - don't use fossil fuels! Imagine - burning a billion tons of coal and criticizing our oil producers!
+6 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-11-29 16:55


+5 # tigerlille 2013-11-30 16:57
That's quite an environmental legacy Obama is leaving. @#$%?!@.
+1 # Anarchist 23 2013-12-01 11:36
To the tune of 'America the Beautiful'

Oh ugly now for chemtrailed skies,
For poisoned waves of grain,
For purple mountains now strip-mined
Above the fracked up plain!
America, America,
Man dumped his shit on thee!
And exports wars to foreign shores
From sea to oily sea!

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.