Gulf-Bound Tar Sands for Export?
Follow the Oiltanking Trail

Horn, Steve
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/19/gulf-bound-tar-sands-for-export/

Publisher:  CounterPunch
Date Written:  19/11/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX16928

The U.S. Senate failed to get the necessary 60 votes to approve the northern leg of TransCanada‘s KeystoneXL pipeline, but incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already promised it will get another vote when the GOP-dominated Senate begins its new session in 2015.

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The U.S. Senate failed to get the necessary 60 votes to approve the northern leg of TransCanada‘s KeystoneXL pipeline, but incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already promised it will get another vote when the GOP-dominated Senate begins its new session in 2015.

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Though the bill failed, one of the key narratives that arose during the congressional debate was the topic of whether or not the tar sands product that may flow through it will ultimately be exported to the global market.

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But a DeSmog probe into a recent merger of two major oil and gas industry logistics and marketing companies, Oiltanking Partners and Enterprise Products Partners, has demonstrated key pieces of the puzzle are already being put together by Big Oil to make tar sands exports a reality.

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On November 13, the day before the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve Keystone XL North, Enterprise acquired Oiltanking. Both companies stand to gain from its prospective approval, as well as the recent approval of KeystoneXL‘s Clone, and both companies have made big bets on fossil fuel exports at-large.

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As covered previously on DeSmogBlog, Keystone XL South has a key fork in the road called the Houston Lateral Pipeline that will supply Houston’s refinery row with dilbit. An article published in RBN Energy by Sandy Fielden explained that TransCanada’s Houston Lateral will feed into Oiltanking’s Houston Ship Channel terminal.

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The interconnected business plans of Enterprise and Oiltanking, with Enterprise accounting for 30 percent of Oiltanking’s sales prior to acquisition, further calls into question whether the pipelines have anything to do with “energy independence.”

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Look no further than to Enbridge, which as DeSmogBlog pointed out in a recent article, has already begun exporting tar sands to the global market via its subsidiary, Tidal Energy Marketing. Traders told Reuters they expect tar sands exports to increase when Seaway officially opens for business in December.

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Oiltanking’s assets also serve as key terminals for exporting liquid petroleum gas (LPG), coal and petroleum coke (“petcoke”). Petcoke is a tar sands by-product currently exported from the U.S. at record rates.

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“Upon completion of the expanded facilities, Enterprise will have aggregate capacity to load in excess of 16 million barrels per month of low-ethane propane and/or butane,” explained a press release announcing the expansion.

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The groups alleged Oiltanking “failed on a daily basis to take all reasonable steps to minimize or correct the adverse environmental impacts resulting from its spilled wastes for at least the past five years, and continues to fail on a daily basis to minimize or correct the environmental impacts from its waste – including without limitation waste that is now located in the [Mississippi River].”

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“Oiltanking Partners’ assets are strategically located to take advantage of U.S. oil exports if the four-decade prohibition is lifted,” declared an article in The Motley Fool, a popular investor press publication. “That access to water and ample storage capacity put Oiltanking Partners in prime position to export oil in the event of federal approval of such business.”

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Sen. Landrieu referred to those pointing out that Gulf-bound tar sands pipelines like Keystone XL are at least in part for export as “ranting.” But the reality is that if the industry and their investors get it their way, they will soon be festively raving all the way to the bank.

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