New Keystone plan ready within weeks
An executive with the Canadian company seeking to build an oil pipeline across the United States to the Texas Gulf Coast says a plan for a new route around Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region will be ready within weeks.
TransCanada president of energy and oil pipelines Alex Pourbaix said Tuesday that the company plans to resubmit its permit request to the U.S. State Department.
He also said construction of the southern tier of the Keystone XL pipeline, which doesn't require a special permit, will begin by late spring or early summer.
Pourbaix spoke at a panel discussion at an energy conference in Houston.
He said the southern tier of the pipeline from Cushing, Okla., through Texas will help relieve but not completely eliminate a bottleneck at Midwest refineries.
The proposed $7.6 billion US Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect Alberta crude to refineries along the Texas coast, has become a major political flashpoint as U.S. President Barack Obama seeks re-election this November.
In January, the U.S. government denied a permit for the project, but left the door open for TransCanada to apply for a new one.
Obama said a deadline imposed on his administration by the Republicans to make a decision by Feb. 21 didn't allow enough time to adequately study a new route through Nebraska, so he had no choice but to reject the project.
But he said the decision had less to do with the pipeline's merits than with the arbitrary deadline the Republicans had set. Critics of Keystone XL say the project would increase U.S. dependence on "dirty" oilsands crude. There are also concerns a spill could harm key drinking water sources.
Supporters, however, say the project will offer a big boost to the U.S. economy and reduce the amount of crude the United States has to import from unfriendly regimes.
Calgary-based TransCanada is best known as North America's largest natural gas shipper with a vast network of pipelines criss-crossing North America. It also has power generation assets across North America.