Girling's confidence helps project a sense of inevitability around
the $5.4 billion project, which supporters say would create badly
needed jobs, and offset a recent unfavorable Nebraska court ruling
and more than five years of political wrangling in Washington.
"It is the next pipeline that is going to be built" in the United
States, Girling said in an interview at the IHS CERAWeek energy
conference in Houston. "The marketplace continues to push us to
build a pipeline. It's the right thing to do."
Girling sought to reassure many of the Canadian company's customers
attending the conference, the largest gathering of energy companies
in the world, that Keystone XL ultimately would open and be able to
transport their crude oil to Texas refineries.
The project has become a lightning rod for opposition, with
environmentalists saying oil spills would become common along the
Keystone XL route and warning that the project could hasten climate
Still, the U.S. State Department issued a report in January that
downplayed environmental concerns surrounding Keystone XL, rankling
opponents and buoying supporters of the project.
The project's delay has perplexed some in Canada, where government
officials have urged Obama to give his consent to TransCanada, the
second-largest Canadian pipeline operator.
"We hope to see a resolution soon," Joe Oliver, Canada's minister of
natural resources, said in an interview on Tuesday. "We hope it's a
President Obama told U.S. governors last month that he expects to
make a decision on whether to approve TransCanada's Keystone plans
in the next few months, a step that would end the long-running saga.
"There's no reason in my mind why it can't come to a conclusion,"
The project hit a snag last month when a Nebraska judge ruled the
state's governor lacked authority to approve part of the project.
Girling said he believes that ruling is a "solvable problem" and
won't affect Obama's process for reaching a final decision on
The Keystone pipeline network was designed in four phases, three of
which have been built already, and TransCanada began shipping
Canadian crude oil to Texas in January.
[to top of second column]
The Keystone XL portion of the network, roughly 800 miles through
Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, would increase capacity and
allow Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and Montana to be shipped
on the network.
While waiting for approval, TransCanada would be open to building
railcar loading hubs for crude oil, depending on customer needs,
Hubs to load and transport oil via train have become a popular
second option in the energy industry as pipeline projects have
encountered regulatory delays. TransCanada rival Enbridge <ENB.TO>
has built its own network of rail hubs to service areas with limited
TransCanada already has a series of crude oil storage facilities in
Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Alberta, and building loading hubs at
each location to connect with rail lines could let it get crude oil
to markets faster as it waits for regulatory approvals.
"If we need to bridge the gap between growing production and the
time we bring pipelines online, we'll definitely do that," he said.
"We've had conversations with our customers and railroads about
making those kinds of things work out."
No plans have been made yet to build such hubs, though, Girling
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing
by Ken Wills)
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