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Associated Press, Published September 14 2010

Pipeline would move 100K barrels/day from Mont, ND

BILLINGS, Mont. — TransCanada Corp. said Monday that it would ship 100,000 barrels of oil daily from Montana and North Dakota under a proposal to allow U.S. crude onto a planned Canadian pipeline.

The Keystone XL pipeline was proposed primarily to transport crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas.

But Calgary-based TransCanada on Monday launched a two-month "open season" to solicit bids from companies that want to tap into its Keystone XL pipeline as it passes through Baker, Mont.

The announcement followed complaints from producers in the Bakken oil field of Montana and North Dakota that they were being bypassed by the new pipeline.

TransCanada Vice President Paul Miller the company plans to invest $140 million in a new project, Bakken Marketlink, that would allow domestic oil onto Keystone XL.

That "onramp" for Montana and North Dakota oil could be in service by early 2013, he said.

The Bakken has been described as the fastest-growing oil play in the country. Production is expected to more than double in coming year.

Yet oil companies in North Dakota and Montana currently sell crude from the region at sharply discounted prices because of a shortage of pipeline capacity

"The Bakken Marketlink is TransCanada's response to this growing demand," Miller said. He added that the size of the project could grow depending on how much crude companies want to transport.

During a news conference with Miller at Montana State University-Billings, Gov. Brian Schweitzer credited TransCanada with giving U.S. companies a new option to move their oil.

"TransCanada has demonstrated, has shifted positions if you will, to embrace these oil producers," Schweitzer said. "The ball is now in the producers' court."


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.