TransCanada CEO visits Beaumont to celebrate completed Gulf Coast pipeline

Dozens gathered at Ford Park Wednesday to celebrate the completion of the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline's southern leg, the Gulf Coast Pipeline, which carries crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland.

TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling said the completion of the 6 year, $2.6 billion project could lead to lower gas prices.

"The refineries get more access to oil that's produced right here in North America, they don't have to pay higher inflated prices for foreign barrels which means these refineries are more efficient, more cost-effective," Girling told 12News at Wednesday's luncheon at Ford Park.  

An extension of the southern leg will eventually take crude through Liberty to refineries in Houston.  That is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

"It presents an opportunity for America to take another step toward energy independence," said Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, who called the project a "milestone".

Wednesday's ceremony came one day after the federal government issued an emergency order requiring stricter testing of crude oil before it can be shipped by rail, fearing its susceptibility to exploding.

"It might seem strange for (me) to say this, but moving liquid product by pipeline is a lot safer than by rail," said Texas Railroad Commission chairman Barry Smitherman.

For all the joy, there was frustration as well over delays in President Obama's approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline's northern leg, which would ship more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada into the U.S.

"It's frustrating that we can't get people to work and get that much needed infrastructure done," said Girling.

While the President has no deadline to approve the pipeline, Girling says he's confident it will get done.


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