Contractors Highlight Importance of Keystone XL To U.S. Job Creation

Special To Pipeline & Gas Journal
March 2012, Vol. 239 No. 3

A view from the construction of the original Keystone pipeline.

A number of U.S. firms have joined TransCanada Corp. in stating how they will create thousands of American jobs building the Keystone XL pipeline, the largest privately financed infrastructure project now on the books. The companies sought to reinforce the fact that construction of the privately financed $7 billion oil pipeline means work for their employees during a period when the American economy needs jobs - 20,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing.

TransCanada is in the process of revising its original permit application which would re-route the pipeline away from certain aquifers in Nebraska. The hot-button issue has become the leading topic in this year’s presidential election with Republicans pressing the Obama administration on a final decision before Nov. 6, and the administration seeking to delay that until 2013. There is also speculation that TransCanada may decide to shorten the proposed route to eliminate the border crossing so that the project would not require a special permit from the State Department. Congressional Republicans are also behind a move that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the final say on Keystone.

MPS Constructors, LLC (a joint venture formed by three of the largest pipeline builders in the U.S. including Michels Corp., Price-Gregory International and Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co.), Michels Corp. (under a separate contract) and Sunland Construction Inc. (also under a separate contract) represent the American contractors who have been awarded pipeline construction work in the U.S. Together, on average,
they employ close to 17,000 workers across North America.

L.A. (Buster) Gray, project director of MPS said: "Pipeline construction work utilizes a large number of highly skilled workers which in turn requires high-paying jobs. A project of the magnitude of Keystone XL can generate the annual income for a worker and his family. This pipeline project would bring badly needed jobs to our industry and the region.”

"We had a discussion with TransCanada to determine the number of workers it would take to construct Keystone XL. As a group of companies that has been building large-scale infrastructure projects for years, we fully support the figure of 13,000 workers who would be needed to build this pipeline," Gray said.

Patrick D. Michels, president of Michels Corp., commented: "Knowing how significant the Keystone XL pipeline is to U.S. national security, energy independence, economic growth and job creation, we are very eager to get started with construction. There is no question that the permitting delays have impacted our ability to purchase supplies from U.S. companies and hire U.S. workers who need jobs. Getting the permitting go-ahead will trigger the spending and hiring that will hopefully provide a spark to jumpstart the economy."

Robert A. Riess, Sr., president and CEO of Sheehan Pipe Line Construction
Co., added: "This project is vital to our company and the pipeline construction industry as a whole. We will put more than 1,500 skilled American workers to work on our portion alone. The presence of construction spreads in the communities along the Keystone XL route will result in the creation of numerous local jobs that will not exist without the construction of the pipeline.