TransCanada’s chief executive says he was “heartened” by a vote in the U.S. Senate Monday on the Keystone XL pipeline, despite falling just short of the margin that would prevent a filibuster.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Russ Girling said he believes that some senators voted against approval simply because it hasn’t cleared all regulatory and legal hurdles.
The Senate voted 59 to 41 in favour of the pipeline that would form a new link in the chain from Alberta to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. It needed 60 to forestall a potential filibuster.
“It was apparent it got close to 60 per cent of the Senate voting in favour of it,” Girling said.
“I think there will be others that are supportive of the project but have said the regulatory process has to play itself out.”
“I don’t think that some of those folks who voted against the bill were necessarily against the pipeline.”
The much-delayed pipeline, now estimated to cost $8 billion, would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day — some of it from the Alberta oil sands, some from the U.S. Bakken region.
Girling insisted that the project has the support it needs following the vote.
“Our view would be that’s a very positive sign,” he said.
“It looks like two-thirds or so of the Senate is supportive, two-thirds of Congress and as I mentioned earlier, two-thirds of the American public are supportive of the project.”
The project still requires a presidential permit. President Barack Obama hasn’t said whether he’ll approve the pipeline.
Girling told analysts that he believes the project will ultimately go ahead because there’s a market demand for the oil it will supply.
He said it’s possible that oil might be shipped across the U.S. border by rail and then injected in TransCanada’s U.S. pipeline system. That wouldn’t require presidential approval.
U.S. critics have said that Keystone XL will simply be used as a means to ship Canadian oil through the U.S. to off-shore customers.
Girling said he thinks the oil will remain in the U.S., which still imports six to seven million barrels a day from off-shore suppliers.