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After years of contention, Keystone XL Pipeline plans continue; Company awards $1.6 billion to American construction firms

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What is ...

Estimated to cost $8 billion;

Scheduled to cross 316 miles of South Dakota countryside, while featuring seven “pump stations” along the way;

Capable of shipping 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude oil per day;

Projected to create or support more than 60,000 jobs;

Expected to generate more than $1.3 billion in annual earnings for the operator once it is up and running; and

Continuing to be the source for legal disputes and environmental concerns, just as it has for more than a decade?

Why, it’s TC Energy’s Keystone XL Pipeline, of course.

On Wednesday, officials with the firm once known as TransCanada announced they had awarded more than $1.6 billion to six American contractors to work on the pipeline next year. Officials said they will eventually “employ more than 11,000 Americans in 2021,” with about 8,000 of these jobs expected to be “union.”

“The awarding of 2021 U.S. construction contracts shows the continued momentum behind Keystone XL. The dedicated members of the Operating Engineers are eager and ready to build this critical piece of modern North American energy infrastructure to the highest quality standards,” said James T. Callahan, General President of the International Union of Operating Engineers. “The 8,000 American union jobs that come with 2021 construction is welcome news and irreplaceable as the U.S. continues our economic recovery.”

The companies awarded contracts to work on the pipeline next year include: Barnard Pipeline (Bozeman, Montana); Associated Pipeline (Houston, Texas); Michels (Brownsville, Wisconsin); Precision Pipeline (Eau Claire, Wisconsin); Price Gregory International (Katy, Texas); and U.S. Pipeline (Houston, Texas).

“With construction activities well underway in both the U.S. and Canada, Keystone XL is already playing a critical role in contributing to North America’s economic recovery,” project President Richard Prior said. “The selection of our U.S. construction contractors for 2021 is an important next step in employing thousands more American union workers and delivering tangible benefits to local communities and businesses.”

“As a Montana contractor, we are proud to build this important project in our great state and to help ensure energy independence for our nation. We believe our reputation for integrity, safety and quality will meet the expectations of the property owners, communities and TC Energy,” Barnard Pipeline President Marty Jorgensen added.

TC Energy officials have said the project would eventually lead to 3,500 jobs in South Dakota while passing through nine counties: Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp.

According to TC Energy, there will be seven pump stations in South Dakota: Two in Harding County, one each in Meade, Haakon and Jones counties, and two in Tripp County.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) states that a pump station is “used to transport unrefined petroleum, petroleum products, and liquefied natural gas through pipelines.”

“The commodity within the pipeline moves due to the exertion of force (pressure). As the commodity moves, the pressure is reduced, due to ‘friction losses’ in the pipe. To keep the commodity moving, pressure must be increased along the pipeline. Pressure increases are accomplished through the use of pumps and compressors,” PHMSA adds.

Overall, current plans call for the Keystone XL to extend 1,210-miles from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. At that point, it would connect with other TC Energy infrastructure to send the crude further south to refineries in east Texas.

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