By Scott Haggett and Julie Gordon
CALGARY/VANCOUVER Jan 31 TransCanada Corp's
chief executive welcomed a favorable U.S. environmental
review of the company's Keystone XL project on Friday, calling
the report an important milestone for the final approval of the
The U.S. State Department issued its long-awaited Final
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the $5.3 billion
pipeline project on Friday. It concluded that allowing the line
to proceed would not raise the pace of development in Canada's
oil sands, a key argument of the pipeline's opponents.
The report, issued more than five years after TransCanada
first applied for a presidential permit for the line, triggers a
90-day comment period. Although it does not dictate the timing
of a final decision on the project from the Obama
administration, Russ Girling, the company's chief executive,
said the review was a key step for the pipeline.
"We are very pleased with the release and being able to move
this next stage of the process," Girling said on a conference
call with reporters "It's been long in getting here, but
obviously as a company we're well prepared to move into this
Keystone XL, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day of
crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to the refining hub on the
Gulf coast of Texas, has firm support from the Canadian
government and the country's oil industry. But the project is
bitterly opposed by environmentalists concerned about greenhouse
gas emissions from oil sands developments.
"The Canadian oil industry is sitting on top of a tar sands
carbon pollution bomb and Keystone XL is the fuse needed to
light it," Larry Schweiger, chief executive of the National
Wildlife Federation, said in a statement.
The line's backers were ebullient at the favorable report.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who has made a
number of trips to Washington to lobby for approval of the
project, called for a speedy final decision on Keystone XL.
"This is a positive step on the route to approval. We are
pleased to see it move toward completion," the minister said at
a press conference. "I'm hoping that after the process which is
outlined (the 90-day review period), the decision will be taken
Despite more than five years of delay, oil producers that
contracted to ship their oil on the line remain committed to the
project, Girling said. The Canadian Association of Petroleum
Producers, whose members will supply the lion's share of the
crude shipped on the line, also welcomed the report.
Oil sands producer Cenovus Energy Inc, which
expects to move up to 75,000 barrels per day on Keystone XL,
hopes the report will be the final step needed to convince the
U.S. administration to approve it.
"We haven't had a chance to do a thorough review, but
initially we're pleased with the findings of the environmental
impact study and hope this latest research inspires a timely
decision," Paul Reimer, a senior vice-president at Cenovus, said
in a statement. "If the decision is based on facts and science,
like politicians are promising, then it should be approved."
TransCanada shares rose 59 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to
C$48.42 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.