TransCanada expects that the Nebraska Supreme Court could reach a decision on the Keystone XL route in the state by the first quarter of 2019, the Canadian pipeline operator which has been trying to build the pipeline for nearly a decade said in its Q3 earnings release on Thursday.
TransCanada first proposed in 2008 to build the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Alberta in Canada to Nebraska and the U.S. Gulf Coast. After being dumped by the previous U.S. Administration, Keystone XL was revived by President Donald Trump in one of his first decisions after taking office.
Keystone XL has become one of the most controversial oil projects in North America, but it is also one of the most important for Canadian crude oil producers who have been struggling with a significant pipeline capacity shortage that has depressed Canada’s heavy oil prices to as low as US$20 in recent weeks.
In today’s earnings announcement, TransCanada updated the market on the progress of the legal hurdles still remaining for the Keystone XL project.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) approved an alternative route for Keystone XL in November 2017, but the following month, an appeal was lodged in Nebraska’s Court of Appeals against the consent of the commission to the project. Earlier this year, the Nebraska Supreme Court, on its own motion, agreed to bypass the Court of Appeals and directly hear the appeal case, with oral arguments before the Nebraska Supreme Court set for today.
“We expect the Nebraska Supreme Court, as the final arbiter, could reach a decision by first quarter 2019,” TransCanada said.
The company, together with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), is actively participating in other pending lawsuits against the permits and environmental assessments of the project. TransCanada believes that the court’s decisions on certain elements of those legal challenges may be issued by the end of this year, it said.
However, Keysone XL is facing another, more recent, legal challenge, after two U.S. Native American communities filed a lawsuit in Montana in September, challenging the Keystone XL Presidential Permit.
“It is uncertain how and when this lawsuit will proceed,” TransCanada said on Thursday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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