(Adds comment from Alberta energy minister)
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Canadian pipeline company TC Energy Corp said on Tuesday it planned to start pre-construction work in February for its Keystone XL oil pipeline, the start of what it expects to be a busy work schedule for the long-delayed project.
TC said in a filing with U.S. District Court in Montana that in February it would start mobilizing heavy construction equipment in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, and aim to begin building a 1.2-mile (1.93 km) segment spanning the U.S.-Canada border in April.
Work on the border-crossing segment is subject to receiving federal approvals, including a right-of-way and temporary use permit, TC said.
The $8 billion Keystone XL project would carry 830,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest and then on to the Gulf Coast. It has been delayed for more than a decade by opposition from landowners, environmental groups and tribes, and after former U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the project.
The State Department has yet to issue a final environmental impact statement. A judge ruled in November 2018 the agency had not conducted an adequate review of the pipeline.
U.S. President Donald Trump in March last year signed a new permission for the pipeline, a move in his administration’s pursuit of “energy dominance,” or maximizing production of oil, gas and coal for domestic use and exports.
Congested pipelines have resulted in lower Canadian prices and government-ordered production curtailments in the province of Alberta.
“Keystone XL is crucial in building market access for Alberta, ensuring high-quality Canadian oil that can be relied upon throughout North America,” Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a statement, adding that she is pleased with TC’s construction schedule.
TC said it plans to start building pumping stations along the pipeline route in June. Work on a pipeline segment in Nebraska would also start in June, followed by the start of construction of segments in Montana and South Dakota in August.
The schedule hinges on starting to mobilize equipment in February, TC said. Work will continue in 2021. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler, Marguerita Choy and Tom Hogue)