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Keystone XL oil pipeline hits snag in Texas

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Andrew D. Brosig/The Daily Sentinel/AP/File

(Read caption) Michael Bishop poses in this December 2012 file photo, with a pair of flags flying in protest of the planned Keystone XL pipeline, near the entrance to his property south of Douglass, Texas, which is directly in the path of the project. The stretch of pipeline that connects the American network with the bitumen source in the Canadian oil sands is still awaiting approval from the American government.

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Even as a decision from President Barack Obama about its future, the Keystone XL Pipeline has hit another snag in construction thanks to an oil-savvy landowner in Texas.

A judge in the southern state has ordered that TransCanada Corp., the company behind the building of the continent-spanning oil pipeline, must stop work on a stretch of the line that will run beneath property owned by Michael Bishop for two weeks, due to that man’s challenge of the pipeline’s intentions. (Read More: Obama Under Increasing Pressure to Make Keystone XL Decision)

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While the documents Bishop signed allowing TransCanada to use his property for the line specifies that the pipes can carry crude oil, there is no mention of bitumen, the semi-solid form of petroleum that originates in Canada’s oil sands. Bitumen must be diluted or heated in order to liquify it for transport, requiring different pressure levels than the simple transport of liquid crude – something that Bishop says is not mentioned in the contract he signed with the company.

For its part, TransCanada suggests that the temporary restraining order issued by the judge is not a long-term concern. 

“Under Texas law, TransCanada has been granted the legal authority to construct this pipeline,” said TransCanada spokesman David Dodson. “Construction has commenced on the property that is the subject of the temporary restraining order, and the product the Gulf Coast Pipeline will transport is crude oil. Mr. Bishop’s request does not impact overall construction, and we are on track to bring this pipeline into operation in late 2013.” (Read More: Enbridge Set to Invest $6.28 Billion in Oil Pipeline)

The challenge is only one of many that TransCanada has faced as it battles landowners and environmentalists on the last leg of its 2,150 mile long pipeline that will eventually stretch from Alberta to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. While many of the legal troubles have delayed construction at times, none has put the future of the project in serious jeopardy.

Regardless of the outcome of this case, the stretch of pipeline that connects the American network with the bitumen source in the Canadian oil sands is still awaiting approval from the American government; President Barack Obama is expected to weigh in on the issue officially in early 2013.

Source: TransCanada Faces Keystone XL Trouble in Texas

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