July 26, 2010 / 11:58 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. State Dept extends comment period on pipeline

* Federal agencies have 90 days to comment after report

* Line would carry oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast

* EPA said draft assessment inadequate

(Adds TransCanada comments, background)

WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Monday it extended the amount of time federal agencies will have to comment on TransCanada’s (TRP.TO) proposed Keystone XL pipeline, delaying the construction schedule.

The department, which must approve the $7 billion project designed to ship more oil wrung from Alberta’s oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has said it expects to make its decision by the end of this year.

It said other agencies will have 90 days after a final environmental impact assessment is completed.

“At the end of this entire thing and what’s going to happen for us is there’s going to be a bit of an impact on our scheduling on this project by about six weeks,” TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said.

The company hopes to make up the delay during construction, assuming Keystone XL gets the approval nod from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The department had requested federal agencies provide comments on the proposal by Sept. 15.

Cunha said it was not known if the move was triggered by a letter to the State Department from the Environmental Protection Agency last week, which said the draft environmental assessment did not adequately address a number of issues.

Those included such things as greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands developments in northern Alberta, U.S. aims to move to more alternative energy sources and the potential impact of pipeline breaks.

TransCanada disagreed with the assertions, especially regarding the carbon that would be emitted in Canada, Cunha said.

Keystone XL would carry 510,000 barrels a day of crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Gulf Coast refining hub. Construction of the line is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Alden Bentley, Phil Berlowitz

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