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January 1, 2014

Oklahoma pipeline to Gulf Coast will begin Jan. 22

OKLAHOMA CITY — The operator of a $2.3 billion pipeline between Cushing and the Gulf Coast expects to begin shipping oil Jan. 22.

TransCanada began injecting crude oil into the 485-mile, 36-inch pipeline in early December. Spokesman Davis Sheremata said the process involves injecting about 3 million barrels of oil into the system at Cushing and moving it to the Houston area.

“Once line-fill is complete, TransCanada’s team will move into the final phase of commissioning for our meters, pump stations and other related facilities,” Sheremata said in an email to The Associated Press.

Regulatory filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have set Jan. 3 as the date for rates, rules and regulations to become effective to commence transportation services to the Gulf Coast, Sheremata said Tuesday.

“We are required to provide at least 30 days’ notice to FERC regarding the effective date for our tariffs and tolls,” he said. “The Gulf Coast pipeline will have the initial capacity to transport up to 700,000 barrels of oil per day with the potential to transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day to Gulf Coast refineries.”

The pipeline is the southern leg of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s oil sands and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to refineries in the Houston area.

President Barack Obama refused to issue a permit for part of the project last year amid concerns about its potential impact on a large aquifer in Nebraska. The administration is considering another application, but TransCanada has received clearance for the pipeline’s southern leg.

Construction began in August 2012 and involved more than 11 million hours of labor by 4,844 workers in the U.S., Sheremata said. The number of workers employed in the operational phase has not been established, he said.

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