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No construction on Keystone XL in U.S. this year despite court win

Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot  outside Gascoyne, North Dakota.
Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot outside Gascoyne, North Dakota.

CALGARY – Despite a favourable court ruling in the U.S. for its Keystone XL pipeline, proponent TC Energy Corp. will not begin construction on the project south of the border this year.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court injunction Thursday that prevented Calgary-based pipeline giant TC Energy — formerly TransCanada Corp. — from beginning construction on its 830,000-barrels-per-day pipeline, but the company has already lost the 2019 construction season as a result of previous delays.

“There will be no mainline construction in 2019 in the U.S.,” TC Energy spokesperson Matthew John said in an email.

The company had previously warned on earnings calls that if it didn’t get relief from the injunction earlier this year, it would not be able to begin construction work on the $8-billion pipeline between Alberta and Nebraska to move oilsands crude onto refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

TC Energy has been locked in a years-long legal battle with opposed landowners and environmental organizations to build the Keystone XL pipeline and continues to face other challenges.

“We are pleased with the ruling. We look forward to advancing the project,” John said.

However, the company is still awaiting a decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court over whether its permits to build the pipeline through the state are valid. TC Energy won the right to build the pipeline through the state along an alternative to its preferred route, which opened the company up to an additional legal challenge.

The company has been waiting for a decision from the court for months.

Opposed environmentalists have also vowed to challenge the presidential permit issued by U.S. President Donald Trump allowing the pipeline to cross the Canada/U.S. border.

During the company’s first quarter earnings call in May, TC Energy president and CEO Russ Girling said the company was “methodically” advancing the project despite the obstacles it faces.

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