The other Keystone XL

Ministro OleoductoWhile North American greens spend all their energy fighting against Keystone XL (and driving crude oil onto exploding freight trains) Venezuela is getting ready to commission this.

This is a 153-km, 42″ oil pipeline with a capacity of 750,000 barrels a day of high-sulfur, high-carbon, processing-intensive oil. It will one day take oil from Venezuela’s quiet, biodiverse Orinoco Belt to the largely pristine Caribbean coast. There the oil will be partially refined (upgraded) into higher-quality crude. Upgrading is the removal of petroleum coke and sulfur. Those unpleasant byproducts sit in great heaps near the sea until they are sold to industrial users around the world. Concrete-makers love Venezuelan petcoke because it is a high-energy fuel for their kilns, never mind that it’s very carbon-intense.

The Keystone XL, which has gotten people so up in arms, has 830,000 barrels a day of capacity, with its source oil being mined rather than drilled. That’s a big deal, no doubt. And you can’t easily compare one polluter to the other. Still, I think it’s fair to say that the Venezuelan pipeline is at least on the same order of magnitude as Keystone. And it’s being built with US dollars that come from US drivers.

The only good thing about the Venezuelan pipeline is that it’s being built very, very slowly. I am pretty sure this is the same pipe I saw under construction in 2010.

Some pipeline under construction in Anzoategui, 2010

Some pipeline under construction in Anzoategui, 2010

Here are some birds.

Seed-finch in Campo San Joaquin, 2008

An ani in Campo San Joaquin, 2008 (thanks to a brilliant reader for identifying it)

Caracara in pine tree in Orinoco Belt, 2008

Caracara in pine tree in Orinoco Belt, 2008

4 thoughts on “The other Keystone XL

  1. Dago

    Hi Setty!

    I believe that that big, unidentified bird is a “Paují Copete de Piedra” (Helmeted Curassow or “Pauxi pauxi”).



    1. Steven/Setty Post author

      Thanks! The feathers are right, but it is all black, plus the beak is more like a grosbeak. Hard to see here but it covers the whole front of the face and is short and powerful. There were many of them in that oilfield. Maybe it’s an oily currasow.

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