TransCanada CEO hopeful on LNG, moving forward cautiously on Keystone XL

CALGARY — The head of TransCanada Corp. said Thursday that he’s still optimistic about Canada’s liquefied natural gas export prospects and that the company is proceeding very carefully on its controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Speaking at an investment conference in Whistler, B.C., Russ Girling said the company sees an emerging window of demand opportunity in 2022 for the Shell-backed LNG Canada project to go forward and expects to hear a decision in the next 12 months or so.

On the company’s Keystone XL project, Girling said TransCanada has looked carefully at how the alternative route for the pipeline was approved in Nebraska and is now confident the decision will hold.

“We’re very comfortable with the legality and the technical underpinning of that decision,” he said.

His comments come as opponents of the pipeline say they’re looking to challenge the legitimacy of the approval, because it wasn’t for the preferred route TransCanada had originally applied for.

Girling said the alternate route isn’t a challenge technically and the extra few miles in length will add about $100 million to $200 million to the project cost.

With a new route approved, he said the company is working to acquire land and continue engineering and is being especially careful on project spending until they’re fully ready to start construction.

“We’ve got a lot of bruises from not being really careful, so we’ll just be very careful of how we spend our money through the next 12 months.”

One of the company’s recent setbacks was cancelling the Energy East pipeline, which Girling said was done because of its complexity and difficulty compared with other projects.

“It didn’t appear like we could get all the pieces put together that were necessary.”

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