UPDATE 2-CERAWEEK-Keystone XL pipeline will be built, TransCanada CEO predicts
By Ernest Scheyder
HOUSTON, March 4 (Reuters) - The controversial Keystone XL pipeline will receive President Obama's blessing and be built to transport crude oil from Canada to Texas, TransCanada Corp Chief Executive Russ Girling predicted on Tuesday.
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 change.
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. Continued...