POLL FINDINGS: US likely to approve Keystone XL pipeline after 2012 elections

The US State Department’s recent decision to delay TransCanada’s expansion of its Keystone pipeline system is unlikely to turn into a permanent rejection, according to a poll of Hydrocarbon Processing readers.

An overwhelming 78% of respondents predict the pipeline will gain approval from the US in 2013, following the US presidential election in November 2012.

The pipeline is critical for energy firms that have invested billions of dollars in expanding the production capacity of Canada’s oil sands and refurbishing US refineries to handle heavy crude. Canadian oil officials have said they will look to export crude to Asia if the US cannot reach a pipeline agreement.

The State Department in November said it was postponing the decision until it explores a rerouting that would avoid environmentally-sensitive areas in Nebraska.

Critics have alleged that US President Barack Obama is stalling the decision to avoid offending environmentalists, who are expected to largely support his re-election bid in 2012.

But following the election, the environmentalists would lose much of their leverage on Obama, analysts say, allowing his administration to approve the pipeline.

Moreover, if he were to lose the election, it would be to a challenger from the Republican Party, which largely supports Keystone XL.

The oil industry says the pipeline is safe and will create thousands of jobs.

Another 13% of poll respondents are even more optimistic, predicting the pipeline will gain approval before the 2012 elections.

That would be ahead of the 18-month period given by the State Department, but TransCanada has said in recent weeks that it is willing to make rerouting changes to expedite the timeframe.

Only 9% of readers say Keystone XL will never be approved.

For more details on the pipeline’s status, click here.

To see more details on the poll as well as access prior Hydrocarbon Processing poll results, click here.

(Editor’s note: Polls are where we at Hydrocarbon Processing gather industry sentiment on significant issues of the day. Visit the HP home page to weigh in on our latest poll on whether the EU will ban Iran oil imports.)

Additional reporting by Dow Jones Newswires

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