Keystone XL pipeline approved

CALGARY — The National Energy Board approved Thursday an application by TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) to build its Keystone XL pipeline project, an expansion of its Keystone pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

CALGARY — The National Energy Board approved Thursday an application by TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) to build its Keystone XL pipeline project, an expansion of its Keystone pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The approval by the federal energy regulator includes 22 conditions regarding safety, protection of the environment and landowner rights.

The board also imposed an obligation to monitor greenhouse gas emissions.

The Canadian portion of the project involves the construction of approximately 529 kilometres of new pipeline and related facilities.

It will have an initial capacity of approximately 700,000 barrels per day and will be expandable to 900,000 barrels per day.

The Keystone pipeline currently stretches from Hardisty, Alta., to refining hubs in Illinois. Commercial operations are expected to begin in the middle of this year.

Keystone XL, will extend it to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where refineries are hungry for heavy crude like that produced in Alberta’s oilsands. Construction on the expansion is expected to begin around the beginning of 2011.