By Nick Cunningham Join Our Community The Keystone Pipeline was shut down this week after it ruptured and spilled in North Dakota. TC Energy – formerly known as TransCanada – said on Wednesday that it shut down the 590,000-bpd line after it detected a drop in pressure. “TC Energy immediately began the process to shut down the pipeline, activated its emergency response procedures and dispatched ground technicians to assess the situation,” the company said. The company did not specify whether the entire pipeline was shut down or just a portion. “At this time there is no indication that it has impacted anybody’s drinking water,” said Karl Rockeman, director of the division of water quality for North Dakota’s health department, according to local press reports. “It appears to (be) contained within the area.” The repair and cleanup could take as long as two to three months, according to Reuters. The pipeline runs from Alberta to refineries in the Midwest and is a crucial conduit for Canada’s oil industry. The prospect of an outage helped depress prices for Western Canada Select (WCS), which fell relative to WTI ever-so-slightly on Wednesday. WCS is trading below $38 per barrel, or about $17 per barrel below WTI. This is not the first time that the Keystone Pipeline has spilled. In November 2017, the pipeline ruptured and spilled more than 200,000 gallons in South Dakota. The pipeline was offline for weeks. The latest spill is yet another reminder that while the industry trumpets pipelines as the safest way to move oil, spills are not exactly a rarity. “We don’t yet know the extent of the damage from this latest tar sands spill, but what we do know is that this is not the first time this pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won’t be the last,” Catherine Collentine of the Sierra Club said in a statement. “We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and once again TC Energy has made our case for us.” There are hundreds of significant incidents with pipelines each year, a term that encompasses injuries, fatalities, highly volatile liquid releases or monetary damages. For instance, there were 636 such incidences in the U.S. in 2018, and 647 the year before, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Another high-profile spill is grist for the mill for environmental groups and landowners opposing the Keystone XL. After all, the same company presiding over spills from the older Keystone pipeline is the one that has spent years trying to convince communities that the Keystone XL Pipeline won’t spill. Multiple incidents from the older pipeline does not inspire confidence. For Canada’s oil industry, any lengthy interruptions to midstream capacity would be another blow. In 2017, the last time the Keystone Pipeline went offline due to a spill, WTI prices jumped and Canada’s WCS fell sharply. A few weeks after the outage, WCS prices descended to about $30 per barrel as some Canadian oil struggled to find an exit from the country. The sector has been struggling with years of inadequate takeaway capacity, which have periodically depressed WCS prices to low levels. At the start of this year, Alberta implemented mandatory production cuts in order to relieve the localized glut and boost prices. The policy has largely worked, with WCS prices rising significantly. The cuts have been lifted gradually over the course of the year. On Thursday, Alberta announced another increased allowance for oil producers who are shipping crude by rail. “The special allowance program will protect the value of our oil by ensuring that operators are only producing what they are able to move to market,” Alberta’s energy minister Sonya Savage said in a statement. “Pipeline delays ultimately have constrained market access and dampened investment in our oil sector.” In yet another sign of trouble for the industry, Encana Corp announced on Thursday that it would rebrand itself and move to the United States, the latest example of a multi-year exodus and capital flight out of Canada. “A domicile in the United States will expose our company to increasingly larger pools of investment in U.S. index funds and passively managed accounts, as well as better align us with our U.S. peers,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Suttles said in a statement. Encana will soon be known as Ovintiv Inc. Crude Oil


By Tsvetana Paraskova

Dozens, if not hundreds, of start-ups have designed ‘flying cars’ in recent years, testing prototypes for the future of urban mobility, in which air taxis are expected to play a key role.

Although start-ups bring a lot of innovation, disruption, and creativity to the table, they often lack the most important resource for turning a dream concept into a flying reality—money.

Sufficient financial resources are crucial to moving from a prototype, concept, or design phase into clearing regulatory hurdles in cities, air traffic regulation, and safety standards. Money is also the key to make one concept flying car into a fleet of, let’s say, air taxis that would transport passengers in and around cities.

Start-ups have raised money to build prototypes, but many of them lack the millions of dollars of additional funding to take the concept to the next levels—development, regulatory clearings, mass production, and ultimately, hopefully, a competitive service.

Private equity is backing some of the efforts in the flying cars market. Yet, the biggest backers of the various flying car start-ups could turn out to be the legacy carmakers—companies with very deep pockets and the capability to put a product into mass production.

Investing in flying car concepts could be the automotive industry’s next big bet on the future of mobility a decade or two from now.

Many carmakers are already investing in autonomous cars, self-driving capabilities, software, and technologies, aiming to move to the forefront of the driverless vehicle market in what looks like will be a crowded competition scene.

Investing in urban air mobility (UAM) could be the next logical move of carmakers which aim to keep up with the latest technology in mobility to be able to compete with Silicon Valley’s innovations.

“I think you’ll see strong investment from the auto world in the next 12 months,” Mark Moore, engineering director at Uber who leads the Elevate air taxi service, told Forbes’ Jeremy Bogaisky last week.

Some carmakers have already entered the UAM market, which could become a trillion-dollar industry in the future.

The autonomous urban aircraft sector could become a US$1.5 trillion market by 2040, Morgan Stanley said in a paper early this year.

“Urban air mobility represents business opportunities within infrastructure, fleet management, software, hardware and content, much like the opportunity for autonomous vehicles,” Adam Jonas, Head of Morgan Stanley’s Global Auto and Shared Mobility research team, said in the BluePaper.

“The impact of flying cars would only be limited by imagination,” according to Morgan Stanley.

Several automakers already invest in UAM, hoping not to be left behind in the race to the future of mobility. Some of those carmakers are partnering with major aerospace companies to explore opportunities in UAM.

At the end of last year, Audi, Airbus, and Italdesign presented a concept for a flying taxi combining a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone. The project was called “Pop.Up Next”.

And they weren’t the only ones.

Hyundai Motor Group appointed this September Dr. Jaiwon Shin, who had worked at aviation research and development at NASA for 30 years, as Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s newly established Urban Air Mobility Division.

“The new team at Hyundai will develop core technologies that will establish the company as a driving force in urban air mobility, a sector that is expected to grow into a market worth USD 1.5 trillion within the next 20 years,” Shin said, commenting on his new role.

In early October, Porsche and Boeing signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the premium urban air mobility market.

“Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility. In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel,” said Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing at Porsche AG.

The fact that legacy carmakers invest in UAM signals that this industry could be recognized as a serious contender for the future of mobility, Uber’s Moore told Forbes.

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