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Amazon Touts Cloud Services Deal with TC Energy as Keystone Becomes ‘Walking Zombie’

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is drawing the wrath of one of North America’s leading climate campaigners, after proudly announcing in mid-May that TC Energy, the Calgary-based company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, is “going all-in” as a customer for its cloud-based computing service.

The pipeliner formerly known as TransCanada had “migrated almost 90% of its corporate and commercial applications” to Amazon as of May 13, the e-commerce giant said in a release. “TC Energy plans to migrate all of its data to Amazon’s cloud, and AWS has already helped the pipeline company develop a suite of workflow automation, data analytics, and machine learning programs,” OneZero reports this week.

“TC Energy is leveraging the breadth and depth of AWS services, including machine learning, analytics, database, serverless, storage, and compute to deliver energy and generate power more efficiently for millions of homes in North America,” the announcement added.

But as it turns out, “the timing couldn’t be worse for Amazon’s public image,” writes Oilprice.com. “Facing growing criticism over its treatment of front-line workers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement that the e-commerce giant and cloud developer will now be playing a vital role in building artificial intelligence and automation tools to help extract and deliver some of the world’s dirtiest oil undermines many of its previous commitments to going green.”

And the announcement “comes just weeks after TC Energy’s long-contested Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry some of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive oil on the planet from the Alberta tar sands basin to Nebraska, faced a major legal setback when its permit was vacated by a federal judge,” OneZero notes, a decision that was then upheld by an appeal court last week. That would be the same pipeline whose permit presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has vowed to rip up after he enters the White House in January.

The developments had pro-fossil analyst Jeff Kucharski of Victoria’s Royal Roads University declaring Keystone “a walking zombie” in a post for the Globe and Mail this week.

“So Amazon is helping build the Keystone pipeline—as plain an example of climatic destruction and human rights abuse as exists on the planet,” 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben told OneZero. “And for what? So the richest man on earth can be a little richer? The levels of ugliness here just seem endless.”

“By going all-in on AWS, TC Energy was able to achieve significant savings that the company is redirecting into further investments in research, development, and innovation, including new machine learning projects,” Amazon said in its mid-May statement.

“Since moving to AWS, we’ve shifted our focus to automating workflows and unlocking efficiencies, rather than operating infrastructure and managing costly and complex upgrades,” added TC Energy Vice President and Chief Information Officer Chris Foster.