* Suncor CEO believes XL Keystone will go ahead
* Canadian crude will displace other heavy crudes (Adds details)
By Janet McGurty
NEW YORK, April 14 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy’s (SU.TO) chief executive said on Thursday he believes energy security will be the key to U.S. government’s decision on approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry Canadian crude to the concentration of refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
“I think energy security will trump in regards to the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Rick George, president and chief executive officer of Calgary-based Suncor Energy.
Speaking at a luncheon in New York City sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada, the Province of Alberta and Suncor, CEO Rick George said he had visited Washington earlier in the week but had no inside knowledge of the matter.
George said the crude that would travel down TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) proposed Keystone XL pipeline would displace heavy crudes from Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
“This is a very important source for the U.S.,” he said.
American-born George, who lives in Calgary, stressed the strong relationship between Canada and the United States, which shares one of the world’s largest unfortified borders, and the political stability of Canada.
Canada is already the largest exporter of crude to the United States, sending 2.5 million barrels of oil and oil products across the border in 2009, according to U.S. government data.
The permit for Keystone XL is now facing opposition from environmentalists in both countries. The U.S. State Department is currently considering whether to issue a permit for the Keystone project.
Originally, the Cushing, Oklahoma-to-U.S. Gulf Coast leg of the pipeline was expected to be completed by 2013.
U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast are looking for the pipeline to move out some of the crude oil locked in storage at Cushing to their refineries.
Inventories of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, continue to rise in Cushing -- the delivery point of the NYMEX crude oil futures contract - pushing down the price due to lack of transportation options from the region to the large concentration of refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.