WASHINGTON — TransCanada announced Monday it will build the Keystone XL pipeline segment connecting the crude oil supply hub in Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast, as the company reapplies for a federal cross-border permit to move oil from Alberta, Canada, into the United States.
The company said the $2.3 billion segment from Cushing to Texas will be built as the Gulf Coast Project and should be in service by the middle of next year if federal approvals are granted.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the administration will make sure federal permitting is acted on “very quickly.” Gov. Mary Fallin said she spoke Monday with a TransCanada official who told her that the project was ready to begin in Oklahoma as soon as the permits are obtained.
“They told me they are shovel-ready,” Fallin said in an interview. She said the construction work would employ more than 1,000 people and that most are expected to be Oklahomans.
But an environmental group that has opposed the Keystone XL pipeline vowed to block any segment from being built.
The announcement from TransCanada had been expected, since company officials have been publicly talking about moving forward with the Oklahoma-Texas segment.
“The Gulf Coast Project will transport growing supplies of U.S. crude oil to meet refinery demand in Texas,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, in a news release.
“Gulf Coast refineries can then access lower cost domestic production and avoid paying a premium to foreign oil producers. This would reduce the United States' dependence on foreign crude and allow Americans to use more of the crude oil produced in their own country.”
TransCanada's application for a cross-border permit was denied by President Barack Obama last month after the U.S. State Department determined the application was incomplete because no route through Nebraska had been determined.
However, the president said at the time of the rejection that the administration would look for ways to develop the Cushing-to-Gulf of Mexico pipeline.
Carney said Monday that Obama welcomed the TransCanada decision, which will not require State Department approval.
Fallin, who went to the White House on Monday with other governors in Washington for a national conference, said she spoke directly to Obama about the Oklahoma-Texas segment and thanked him for his comments in support of it.
“He said, ‘We're all for that,'” Fallin said.
Carney, the White House press secretary, said the Oklahoma-Texas segment “will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight-year high.
“Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production. We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”Keystone XL coming to Oklahoma, developer says