Biggest Oil Man In The Bakken: Keystone Pipeline Is No Longer Needed


Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources which is acknowledged as the biggest player in North Dakota’s Bakken oil boom, says the Keystone pipeline isn’t necessary any more (via Aaron Flint):

Oklahoma’s pre-emiment oilman, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, joined the chorus after developer TransCanada agreed to add an on-ramp to transport oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana.

But apparently Hamm has changed his mind on the project.

“It’s not critical any longer,” Hamm told National Journal Daily‘s Amy Harder. “They just waited too long. The industry is very innovative, and it finds other ways of doing it and other routes.”

This may come as a surprise to some, but it’s worth remembering that no so very long ago Hamm was an opponent of the Keystone pipeline, even going so far as to form a lobbying group in 2009 to oppose the building of the pipeline. “We basically stopped Keystone at the border,” Hamm said in an interview with Reuters at the time explaining how his group helped block permits for the pipeline. “We didn’t want all that oil dumped in Oklahoma.”

Hamm didn’t want American markets flooded with cheap Canadian crude, but when TransCanada agreed to accept Bakken crude into the Keystone pipeline as well, Hamm changed his tune.

Which was…convenient.

So why has Hamm changed his tune again? Probably because the situation has changed again. The infrastructure crunch for the Bakken is showing signs of easing, and will be eased even more by the time Keystone ever gets approval, so the most profitable course of action is for Hamm to oppose it again from the standpoint of protecting the markets he operates in.

That may be a smart move for Hamm, who was never supporting the Keystone pipeline from a desire to promote free markets and fair competition. Those things are what’s best for the market, and thus energy consumers, but not so much for people like Hamm.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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