While 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. Continue reading