1.1 Million Acres in Canada and Counting: Koch Interest in Keystone XL Pipeline Confirmed

Acreage in Alberta’s tar sands region could be worth tens of billions of dollars in ultra-dirty Canadian crude oil for the billionaire Koch Brothers if President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, according to new research by IFG’s Plutonomy Program.


As seen above, trashing the Earth is inherent to Canada’s tar sands trade, and the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline would accelerate tar sands “development” across Alberta, including the 1.1 million acres now discovered to be owned by the world’s two wealthiest men, Charles and David Koch.

New research from the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) confirms that Koch Industries has a huge financial interest at stake in KXL’s approval, which could become “stranded assets” if KXL is not approved. The Koch Brothers’ combined net worth ($100 billion) is far more than Bill Gates’ ($78 billion), allowing Koch to outspend all other oil companies—even Exxon—in blocking climate change policies. Koch has repeatedly denied any interest in KXL, but we now see that the very opposite is true.

See Alberta’s database of Koch acreage with these seven steps
See IFG’s breakdown with links to Kochs’ 299 land deals

Source: Alberta Government Database – Sale Results (Petroleum and Natural Gas / Oil Sands)

Source: Alberta Government Database – Sale Results (Petroleum and Natural Gas / Oil Sands)

Alberta’s government land sales database (left) shows Koch with over one million acres in Alberta, Canada (yellowish splotches inside purple area of Athabasca tar sands). Official records reveal Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC (KOSO) purchased 1.1 million acres of land that likely contain enough carbon-rich oil to profit the world’s two wealthiest men tens of billions of dollars. But without KXL, the Kochs’ remote carbon reserves could be too costly to develop and transport from the middle of the continent, saddling Koch with potentially billions of dollars in unexploited carbon they can’t get to market profitably if KXL is rejected.

KOSO is incorporated as an Unlimited Liability Corporation, a vehicle popular with US investors aiming to avoid paying taxes in the US. As found on the Province of Alberta’s government database and last updated in early February 2014, KOSO has 299 Oil Sands Agreements with Alberta.

Although KOSO claims on its website a major presence in Alberta for more than 40 years, it is not currently a major producer of oil compared to other companies. Koch may be waiting for sufficient transport infrastructure before becoming a major producer since the massive pipeline would increase “takeaway capacity” for exporting Canada’s fossil fuel reserves, the third largest supply in the world but currently trapped in the middle of the continent.

Emissions of deadly greenhouse gases will inevitably increase from KXL since the pipeline’s 833,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil carrying capacity will feed expanding US refineries and facilitate more export of the ultra-dirty Canadian crude globally from the Texas Gulf Coast. Industry analysts agree that, as KXL clears the market glut and Canadian crude prices rise (or, more accurately, deep discounts disappear), the pipeline will further increase investment in and production of tar sands, which directly drive up dangerous emissions.

IFG’s recent report, Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb: The Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL Pipeline, projected Kochs’ potential profits from KXL—based on claims that they held two million acres—at $100B. The newly confirmed figure of more than one million acres explains why the Kochs—who Senator Harry Reid warned last week were “trying to buy America” — would give $53 million to front groups calling for the fast-tracking of KXL’s permit, or why they would want Tea Party leaders to tie instant approval of the pipeline to the country’s creditworthiness. Exxon and Chevron weighed in against such extreme pressure tactics during the debt ceiling debate in their roles as key members of the top club of CEOs, the Business Roundtable.


Koch Industries: Figure was reached by summing the acreage of all oil sands agreements purchased by Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC as listed in the Alberta government database.
ConocoPhillips: Figure was found in the company’s 10-K filing to the SEC for 2013. Methodology for manual calculation can be found here.
ExxonMobil: Figure was found in the company’s 10-K filing to the SEC for 2013. Methodology for manual calculation can be found here.
Chevron: Figure was found by summing the acreage of all oil sands agreements purchased by Chevron Canada Limited as listed in the Alberta government database. Additional acreage may lie in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (acreage TBD) of which Chevron is a 20% owner.

Political pressure for the pipeline has been building due to oil companies like Koch, whose ultra-polluting product is far dirtier than conventional oil, is trapped in the middle of the continent due to the insufficient “takeaway” capacity.

Koch-backed Tea Party conservatives in Congress were short only a few dozen votes to tie the passage of KXL to the February 2014 debt limit debate, revealing a stunning degree of irresponsibility by too many elected officials and an unprecedented display of plutocratic power in America.

Even John D. Rockefeller never wielded his wealth with such reckless abandon as to help elect an extremist faction of Congressmen to risk the country’s creditworthiness for a private oil pipeline. But the Kochs have much more political power with their combined net worth of almost $100 billion.

Given all that Koch has at stake in KXL and all that they’ve spent to push through its permit and National Interest Determination, confirmation of Kochs’ extensive acreage closes the case that KXL is NOT in the national interest but it is in the demonstrable interest of the world’s two biggest billionaires.

The Kochs are acting as the financial and ideological leaders of an epic effort to obfuscate science while blocking the regulation and pricing of carbon pollution that is rapidly warming our Earth’s temperatures and unpredictably altering our atmosphere.

Reject KXL now and let this be a turning point away from a future of fossil fuels ruled by oil oligarchs and instead accelerate the urgent transition toward a equitable and ecologically sustainable economy for all.

Here’s how you can help end America’s Koch problem now:
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Below is a live Google map showing all the Koch assets involved in the tar sands trade. Or if you prefer to see the entire page by itself, click here.

View Koch Assets Map in a larger map

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