OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed an order that stopped construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Some Oklahoma politicians and oil and gas professional immediately pushed back saying it would cost Oklahomans jobs and money, but now some in the industry say not so fast.
One former Oklahoma oilman says the news about the pipeline made him smile because its good for the state’s energy industry. Others say it will hurt consumers and it’s the beginning of the Biden administration’s fight against oil and gas.
“We do not need 800,000 barrels a day of anybody’s crude oil to come to Cushing, Oklahoma and sit there,” said Mickey Thompson, former head of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
President Biden recently signed an executive order to stop building the northern leg of the Keystone Pipeline.
The massive pipeline project has been in the works for years and if finished, would transport oil from Canada through Oklahoma on its way to the Gulf Coast for refinement.
On Thursday, Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford firing out a statement saying,
“The Keystone XL is the physical embodiment of Democrats’ crusade against traditional energy. President Biden wasted no time turning back years of Americans’ hard work developing, ironing out the route, and building this trans-border pipeline,” said Lankford. “The southern leg of Keystone, which begins in Cushing, Oklahoma, has been complete for more than six years, but the northern leg of the pipeline—under the strictest pipeline safety standards ever implemented—has faced countless delays. Pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. Yesterday’s irrational denial of the Keystone XL permit damages our relationship with Canada and will lead to higher prices at the pump for consumers. While Oklahomans want to see the US continue to pursue an all-of-the-above energy policy, we also understand that currently our cars and trucks run on oil. Limiting access to an oil pipeline kills jobs and limits our energy supply. Kicking people who work in the energy sector on day-one may help progressive politics, but in Oklahoma, we know our jobs and livelihoods are next. ”
But Thompson says the Pipeline would bring millions of gallons of Canadian oil to Cushing, OK , driving down demand and prices for Oklahoma oil, ultimately hurting oil prices and jobs far more than what would be caused by stopping the Pipeline.
“The loss of job argument holds no water in Oklahoma,” said Thompson.
“We have to view this more holistically than that simple snap shot that you have heard,” said Brook Simmons.
Simmons, the president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, says halting the pipeline kills 50 jobs and $10 million in contracts for a new pumping station in Coal County. Those jobs would likely be temporary and in construction.
He says limiting production hurts consumers at the pump and scaling back production in any part of the country will hurt Oklahoma’s oil and gas businesses.
“Oklahoma producers don’t just limit their production to Oklahoma. They work in a lot of other states. If this administration intends to inflict pain on one segment of the industry, all of that is going to roll home in some way or another,” said Simmons.
But Thompson says the pushback to the pipeline stop is about the big national oil companies.
“It’s all political… It’s not the fundamentals of oil and gas. It’s certainly not caring about the future of Oklahoma oil producers and all the people that work for them,” said Thompson.
Thompson says the current rising gas and oil prices are not due to the election but due to hope the economy will be getting back on track thanks to the COVID vaccine.