TransCanada CEO sees first-half Keystone XL approval

CALGARY, Alberta Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:42pm EST

CALGARY, Alberta Feb 12 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp expects U.S. approval by the end of June for its contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries from Alberta, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.

"We expect to obtain regulatory approval in the first half of 2013 and we still anticipate that the pipeline will become operational in late 2014 or early 2015," CEO Russ Girling said in a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter results.

Girling also said he expects TransCanada to hold an open season in the near future to secure contractual support for a proposed pipeline to Eastern Canada from Alberta. The project, which has strong support from the premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick, would involve shifting one of its natural gas lines to oil use.