Canada energy minister expects positive Keystone XL decision soon

TORONTO Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:34pm EST

TORONTO Jan 31 (Reuters) - Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said on Friday he expects the final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline to be positive, and would like to see it happen in the first half of this year.

Speaking after the U.S. State Department released a final environmental impact statement on the controversial pipeline, Oliver said U.S. President Barack Obama now had all the facts to be able to decide.

"This has been a lengthy and thorough review process. The benefits to the United States and Canada are clear. We await a timely decision on this project," Oliver said.

Oliver described the environmental review, which said the Keystone XL pipeline would be unlikely to increase the pace of Canadian oil sands development, as a "positive step on the route to approval".