Keystone Speaking

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With gas prices going up drastically since Russia invaded Ukraine there have been a deluge of memes calling for reopening of the Keystone pipeline.  These memes were designed by morons and I’m going to tell you why.

#1 The pipeline was never completed.  Only around 8 to 10% of the XL extension had been built.  It was years away from being operational.  So, it never opened, which means it was never closed and could not therefore be “reopened”.

#2 The raw product that would have been moving through the pipeline was never intended or planned for US consumption in any form, and least of all for gasoline manufacture.  The pipeline would have been used to move bitumen removed from tar sands.  It’s a nasty substance and not what is typically used to manufacture gasoline here in the US.  Almost all of the output of the pipeline was going to be sold to foreign markets, and what little might have stayed in the US would likely have been turned in to plastics or inks, not gasoline.

#3 Even IF the pipeline had been “closed down” and even IF the majority of the petroleum coming through it would have been intended for US consumption, and even IF that was a good quality enough to make gasoline from, it wouldn’t make much difference in the price at the pump.  The United States consumes around 7 BILLION barrels of oil a year.  The Keystone pipeline wouldn’t have added more than a drop in that bucket.

And let’s not forget that the availability of crude is only one of a multitude of factors impacting gas prices.  What determines to cost for a gallon (or liter) of gas is incredibly complicated.  Commodities trading, world events, the calendar (notice how gas always goes up right around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 4th of July?), weather, oil company’s bottom lines, and taxes are all significant factors as well.

It would be nice if there was one thing that would magically make the price of gas go down.  But there isn’t.  Never has been, and never will be.  And an 90% unbuilt pipeline in the Canadian wilderness certainly never had a chance of being it.

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