Alberta Premier Jason Kenney marked the start of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the province on Friday, in the small town of Oyen.
“We are here at long last, kicking off construction of the Alberta spread of the Keystone XL project,” said Kenney. “We’re finally getting it done.”
The 1,947-kilometre project will be able to carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., where it will connect with TC Energy’s existing facilities and eventually reach refineries on the Gulf Coast.
About 270 kilometres of the line will be within Alberta.
Work is already underway in three U.S. states.
Controversy in U.S.
The pipeline has been beset by controversy for at least a decade, facing protests and legal challenges. It was twice rejected under the presidency of Barack Obama. It received approval under Donald Trump, but a looming election south of the border could change that.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden has said he would cancel that permit if elected.
The Alberta government has bet on the project moving forward and has invested $1.5 billion, while also putting forward a $6-billion loan guarantee.
Kenney said at the time of the investment that there was too much risk, scaring away private investors from the $8 billion project.
“I’ve always been skeptical about government intervention in the market, but our failure to get pipelines built has been a failure of government policy and politics, not of markets,” Kenney told reporters after making the announcement at the end of March.
Selling the pipeline
On Friday, Kenney said his government would not rest until the full project is built and will work hard to pitch the benefits of the project to officials in the U.S.
“We will be reaching out, as we already have… to members of [Biden’s] party, many of whom support the project,” Kenney said, citing both lawmakers and unions.
He said the investment by his government helped get the project moving and is a “conscious risk” to create “facts on the ground” that could force the hand of any U.S. administration in overturning a project that is already partially constructed.
TC Energy says it anticipates the pipeline will be operational in 2023.