Keystone XL Pipeline Obtains Enough Shipper Commitments to Proceed

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

TransCanada Corp. announced on Thursday that it has received enough commitments from oil shippers to advance construction of its controversial Keystone XL pipeline expansion.

The company said it secured commitments from oil companies to ship 500,000 barrels a day for 20 years, "positioning the proposed project to proceed."

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Construction on the pipeline could begin in 2019, said the company, but a company spokesman said that TransCanada still hasn't made a "final investment decision" on the project.

The extension lacks key permits and remains bogged down in court in Nebraska.

TransCanada still needs easements from landowners in the state and must secure water-crossing permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Calgary-based company also needs land rights and civil works approvals from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said a spokesman. He said there is no timeline for the final investment decision.

TransCanada first proposed the expansion of its Keystone pipeline in 2008, but it has been stalled as opposition from landowners and others in Nebraska helped animate a national protest movement.

TransCanada received approval from Nebraska in November to move forward with construction, but not for the route it had originally proposed. Instead, regulators approved an alternative route and opponents promptly sued to stop its construction.

A landowners group is arguing before Nebraska state court that the regulator's approval is invalid and the company must restart the entire approval process. That could take a year, said Brian Jorde, a lawyer representing the landowners group.

In a statement, Russ Girling, TransCanada's chief executive, thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for reviving the project after former President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada's request to build it. He also thanked Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who also committed the province's oil to the pipeline.

Mr. Girling called the province's commitment "instrumental to achieving the commercial support needed to proceed."

The Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission, an agency for the province, committed 50,000 barrels a day to the pipeline, confirmed a spokeswoman for Ms. Notley.

"The commitment bolsters industry confidence and stability for this project as well as Alberta's economy as a whole," said the spokeswoman.

Write to Vipal Monga at vipal.monga@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 13:13 ET (18:13 GMT)

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