PONCA CITY, Okla. – Keith Mossman gave us a tour of the TransCanada pumping station here, which boosts pressure in TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline for oil to travel the final 42 miles to Cushing. New stations will be added for the southern leg of the Keystone XL line going from nearby Cushing to the Texas coast.
The pumping station is surrounded by security fences, but on most days no one is working there. It’s all monitored by computers in Calgary. Mossman comes once a week. He estimates that other workers are there once or twice a week. When we were there no oil was flowing through the station because the existing Keystone line has a junction back in Steele City, Neb., from which oil can be routed to Illinois. The last batch here was pumped the night before and the next one was headed toward Illinois.
The pumping station had a web of pipes and three big pumps. Mossman noted that there is a membrane beneath the gravel to prevent any spilled oil from leaving the grounds of the station or seeping into the ground. He pointed to the pipe fitting seals that had caused leaks at some TransCanada pump stations over the past year and which has been replaced with a new version that has not leaked. He also noted backup devices. “There is a fail-safe for everything,” he said.
Inside the control building, screens showed pressure and flow rates. Mossman, a regional xxx, said even he doesn’t have the authority to change any settings even though he can dial in to look at data.
“Even if someone hacked in,” he said,” they still couldn’t make any changes.”