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Southern leg of Keystone pipeline to open soon

By Associated Press

Crews work Dec. 3, 2012, on construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline east of Winona, Texas. The southern leg of the pipeline is expected to open Jan. 3. Brownsville-Wis.-based Michels Corp. is overseeing construction of the pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to about Diboll, Texas. (AP file photo by Sarah A. Miller/The Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Crews work Dec. 3, 2012, on construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline east of Winona, Texas. The southern leg of the pipeline is expected to open Jan. 3. Brownsville-Wis.-based Michels Corp. is overseeing construction of the pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to about Diboll, Texas. (AP file photo by Sarah A. Miller/The Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Oklahoma city — Oklahoma oil producers said the planned opening next month of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline will remove a glut of crude oil at a storage hub in Cushing and help them get a price that better competes with what producers along the Gulf Coast receive.

According to regulatory filings by operator TransCanada, the southern leg from Cushing to Port Arthur, Texas, is expected to become operational Jan. 3. Brownsville, Wis.-based Michels Corp. is overseeing construction of the pipeline from Cushing to about Diboll, Texas.

“We remain focused on completing the construction, testing and commissioning for the Gulf Coast Project,” according to the filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The pipeline’s northern leg from Canada into the U.S. has been opposed by environmental groups. The southern leg doesn’t cross an international border and doesn’t require presidential approval, although it too has been opposed on environmental grounds.

President Barack Obama visited Cushing in 2012 and urged construction of the southern leg.

The 485-mile pipeline initially will carry as much as 700,000 barrels a day from Cushing to the Houston area.

“We have a lot of oil being developed in the state. Having another outlet going south is very positive for us,” Tony Say, CEO of Oklahoma City-based Clearwater Enterprises, told The Oklahoman.

Some have speculated that the pipeline will not eliminate the glut, but instead move it downstream to Houston instead of Cushing, something that Jeff Hume, vice chairman of strategic growth initiatives at Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc., said is unlikely.

“There’s plenty of refining capacity down there,” Hume said. “I think it could displace some foreign oil, which is good for us.”

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