(Reuters) – The prospect of a new U.S. secretary of state favoring tougher carbon policy should not worsen the odds of the Keystone XL oil pipeline being approved, the chief executive of TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO), the contentious project’s proponent, said on Monday.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling also said that recent deep discounts on Canadian heavy crude and a boom in shipping oil by rail show that the country’s export pipeline network is close to being filled up, highlighting the need for more capacity.
There is a possibility the U.S. State Department will have a new secretary before the department’s deadline of the end of March for a issuing a decision on the project. Democratic Senator John Kerry, who has long supported taking more action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is widely expected to be the nominee to replace Hillary Clinton.
Girling said that should not matter, as the department’s previous studies on the project have concluded there will be little impact on North American greenhouse gas emissions if Keystone XL is built because Canadian oil sands production will increase regardless.
The bigger question facing the State Department, which will rule on the $5.3 billion pipeline to southern refining markets because it would cross the Canada-United States border, is where the country wants to source its crude imports — its oil-rich neighbor to the north or other less-friendly producers, Girling told Reuters in an interview.