Tags: Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | Steve Marciniak | Keystone | pipeline | technology

TrackBill CEO: Tech Can Make Pipeline Safer, Create Jobs

By    |   Thursday, 31 July 2014 06:48 PM

If the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline ever gets built, small firms that specialize in advanced materials and other high-tech applications can help the transcontinental oil conduit operate smoothly and generate jobs long after it comes online, a St. Louis-based software developer told Newsmax TV on Thursday.

Steve Marciniak, co-founder and CEO of Trackbill, which tracks legislation, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that the pipeline should be constructed — but with state-of-the-art safety measures that address the legitimate concerns of the project's environmental critics.

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"There's a number of companies out there that can make this project a lot safer," said Marciniak.

He cited one firm that he's worked with, Champagne, Illinois-based Autonomic Materials, which has developed a self-healing protective layer that fills cracks in heated oil pipelines.

Such technology relates to one objection to a U.S.-Canada crude carrier: It's at greater risk of rupture than existing U.S. pipelines because the oil it would move — extracted from Canadian tar sands — has to be heated to a higher temperature in transit.

"The oil that we transport through pipelines here now in the U.S., those pipelines are heated to about 100 degrees Farenheit," said Marciniak. "But the tar sands, a much cruder, denser or tarry substance —that needs to be heated at 160 degrees Farenheit in order for that flow — the viscosity — to equal that of the oil we have now."

The issue is that for every 20 degrees of pipeline temperature increase, "the chance for any kind of breakage or spillage doubles," said Marciniak. "So when you're talking about 160 degrees, you're looking at an eight-times chance that something could potentially happen."

He said that's just one area where the pipeline will require long-term, high-tech support — ideally provided by small, mobile firms and start-ups pioneering new products and doing research and development.

Marciniak said it's likely that many of the 42,000 jobs created by the pipeline during construction will disappear once it's operational.

But he said that small businesses, in a high-tech supplemental role, can fill some of the post-construction falloff in Keystone employment, and in the process create new economic growth by spurring new technologies.

Marciniak said it is in the country's best interests to build it.

"If you can create things like that to make the pipeline safer, I think you get the jobs that you're looking for," he said, "but you also get the peace of mind that this isn't just a piece of legislation that claims that the pipeline is safe … It's actual technology being implemented — that hasn't been used before in this capacity — to really make a difference."

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If the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline ever gets built, small firms that specialize in advanced materials and other high-tech applications can help it operate smoothly and generate jobs long after it comes online, a St. Louis-based software developer says.
Steve Marciniak, Keystone, pipeline, technology
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2014-48-31
Thursday, 31 July 2014 06:48 PM
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