Southwest Saskatchewan felt a blip on its oil sector radar when TransCanada Corporation Keystone XL Pipeline Presidential Permit was denied, but this region will experience little if any impact as a result and TransCanada expects the project will ultimately move forward to allow for an in-service date of late 2014.
“When I left, the trucks were still stockpiling pipe south of Shaunavon,” noted Cypress Hills MLA Wayne Elhard, “and I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything to the contrary. I’m assuming that TransCanada is of the opinion the project will eventually go ahead. I think the timetable has been slowed down so they may have experienced some slow down in their work to date, but I don’t think it’s come to a halt yet.”
Elhard, in the US recently, said he has been following the discussions there very carefully.
“One of the problems with the current situation is that the decision on the pipeline is subject to all of the political considerations that are in the US right now. It’s unfortunate that a project that important to two nations would be subjected to the silly season of American politics. And that’s essentially what it is.”
Elhard believes “saner heads will prevail” once the election is over.
“What we’ve got is a project that could produce economic benefits of significant proportions for Canadians, for Saskatchewan residents, for Alberta residents in particular, and it’s a project that could provide energy security to our closest neighbour and best friend.
“I can’t imagine a country as dependent as the US currently is on foreign oil, I can’t see them blocking this project. They have a long way to go before they’re self-sufficient in oil, no matter what the Republicans are saying, and they have way too much economic requirement for a guaranteed and friendly source of energy to turn their back on this proposal.”
Oil activity in the immediate Shaunavon area is sufficient to sustain growth whether the pipeline goes ahead or not, with drilling of about 3000 wells planned for the immediate area over the next decade.
“The construction phase [of the Keystone XL] is primarily the biggest opportunity for economic benefit, so Shaunavon will see an awful lot of activity in regards to that pipeline, but the economic interests of the Shaunavon area, as far as oil and gas are concerned, are not restricted to this pipeline project,” Elhard affirmed.
Jay Meyer, Economic Development Officer for the Town of Shaunavon, agreed.
“I think the mood is optimistic. The oil has been kind of driving our economy outside of agriculture for many years, and the past four to five years we’ve been crazy busy with the new technology and the new interest in the lower Shaunavon, so people are very excited about what’s happening here with or without the pipeline, but the pipeline itself would definitely bring in an influx of money and people. Maybe we can convince a couple to stay and plant roots and use our schools and recreation facilities."