NEB Okays Keystone XL

The National Energy Board (NEB) on Thursday approved an application from TransCanada Keystone Pipeline GP Ltd. (TransCanada) to construct and operate the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, as well as the proposed tolls for the pipeline once it becomes operational.

The NEB found the proposed pipeline to be in the public interest and accepted that the project would connect a large, long term and strategic market for Western Canadian crude oil with the U.S. Gulf Coast in a manner that would bring economic and other benefits to Canadians.

The Canadian portion of the project involves the construction and operation of approximately 529 kilometers of new pipeline and related facilities. The $1.7 billion project will transport crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta to the Canada/U.S. border at Monchy, Saskatchewan. It will have an initial capacity of approximately 111 300 m(3)/d (700 000 barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil and is designed to be expandable to 143 100 m(3)/d (900 000 b/d).

The NEB's approval to proceed with this project includes 22 conditions, all of which must be met before TransCanada will be granted permission to open the pipeline. Key conditions target safety, protection of the environment and landowner rights. The Board also imposed an obligation to monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

At least 60 days prior to construction, TransCanada is required to file with the Board, for approval, a quantitative assessment of GHG emissions expected to directly result from the Keystone XL Pipeline and its associated facilities. In addition the company must outline the methodology it used, what variables might affect those results, and describe mitigation measures to reduce emissions. This latter condition was fully accepted by TransCanada and reflects Canadians' evolving interest and expectations regarding Canada's pursuit of a sustainable energy future.

The NEB issued Hearing Order OH-1-2009 on 12 May 2009 and held a public hearing in Calgary over 11 days starting on 15 September and concluding 2 October 2009.

The NEB is an independent federal agency that regulates several parts of Canada's energy industry. Its purpose is to promote safety and security, environmental protection, and efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest, within the mandate set by Parliament in the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade.

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