After four years of intense scientific and regulatory scrutiny and more than 15,000 pages of environmental reviews, we are proud to announce that the Gulf Coast Project, the safest pipeline ever built on U.S. soil, has begun delivering crude oil from Cushing, Okla., to state-of-the-art refineries in Texas. The completion of this US $2.3-billion crude oil pipeline provides a safe and direct connection between the important oil hub in Cushing and delivery points on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
“This is a very important milestone for TransCanada, our shippers and Gulf Coast refiners, who have been waiting for a pipeline to supply crude oil directly from Cushing,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada President and Chief Executive Officer. “This project is a critical, modern piece of American energy infrastructure that allows producers to safely connect growing production with the world’s most efficient refiners on the U.S. Gulf Coast. It also provides those American refineries the opportunity to use more of the crude oil produced in both Canada and the United States for decades to come.”
Construction of the 487-mile crude oil pipeline involved more than 11 million hours of labor, completed by 4,844 U.S. workers and more than 50 contracts with manufacturers and companies building the pipeline and equipment from across the United States. It also includes the addition of 2.25 million barrels of new crude oil storage capacity at Cushing.
“The workers who helped build this project are in addition to 8,969 men and women who constructed the initial Keystone Pipeline system, and we are waiting for approval of Keystone XL so we can employ more than 9,000 more Americans, who are waiting to put their skills and experience to work,” added Girling.
The Gulf Coast Project not only had significant positive impacts on the lives of the men and women who built this world-class infrastructure project, but it also brought considerable economic impacts to the communities along the route. The project gave local businesses a healthy boost in sales, provided opportunities for growth and community investment.
Chadd Bryant of Prague, Oklahoma converted a drab and dank diner (formerly a filling station) into a bright and cheery rock-themed eatery with a long list of specials appealing to local palates. Chaddar’s Restaurant was already a success when pipeliners began arriving in 2013.
“Some people would see all this new business and immediately raise their prices. I wasn’t going to do that,” Chadd said. So he kept the faith with his regular clientele and then attracted the pipeliners who were drawn to the diner’s food and atmosphere. “I guess my business is up 15 to 20 percent.”
Chadd’s father Clifford said the town will see long-term benefits from the project as well, “As a member of the council, I keep a close eye on sales tax revenues. Before they came to town, we were doing about $80,000 a month. Last month was $161,000,” Clifford said. “Double is pretty impressive.”
Clifford also noted that Prague didn’t lose its head when the incremental revenue started rolling in.
“Once those guys leave, a lot of that revenue is still going to be here. That extra sales tax revenue has been going in the bank. Long after they’re gone, that money will be available for street improvements, for emergency response — it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Joe Penland’s Quality Mat company, in Southeast Texas, is another regional business that partnered with TransCanada and helped make the Gulf Coast Project safer.
“I came up with the idea of doing something prefabricated in a shop instead of out in the weather,” Penland recounted. By manufacturing mats built to different specifications and for various applications in a factory and then moving them to where they were needed, “you could increase productivity, you could increase safety on the job, everything would be recoverable; and, as the good Lord was behind us, and with my mother praying every day, it turned out to be the right thing.”
Quality Mat also gives back to its community in a big way. “When Quality Mat makes a dollar in profit, 30 to 33 cents goes back into the community,” much of it in women’s health programs, Penland said. “That’s something TransCanada and all my customers can feel good about. TransCanada — without TransCanada knowing — has already funded several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of free mammograms, free prostate checks, getting people through some local institutions here, navigating them through surgery, navigating them through treatments and extending some people’s lives.”
The Gulf Coast Project was designed to help relieve the glut of crude oil in places such as Cushing and will transport growing supplies of U.S. supply to meet refinery demand. But the impacts of the project are much broader than that. The benefits to these communities and our neighbors will live long after this project begins moving oil.