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TransCanada will offer landowners along the route of the Nebraska section of its Keystone XL pipeline “incentive payments” in a bid to secure their quick agreement to the right-of-way acquisitions, Nebraskan media report, quoting company representatives as saying the bonus payments will be available to those landowners who sign up for the acquisitions “soon.”
TransCanada has not yet started work on the highly controversial project despite last year’s approval of its alternative route by the Nebraska Public Service Commission. One of the problems is that this alternative route is a new one for the company and it has to study it before beginning construction. But there is another, newer problem as well.
A group of landowners opposing the pipeline launched a lawsuit against TransCanada last year, seeking the removal of the Nebraska PSC approval of the alternative route. According to the lawyers to the plaintiffs, TransCanada made a mistake in asking for approval only for its preferred route. This week, the lawyers lodged a new brief with the court with the argument that TransCanada had made yet another mistake in failing to submit to Nebraska’s governor the pipeline routes it wanted to be considered.
The project is already stalling because of the initial suit and could now be delayed further if the plaintiffs win and TransCanada has to start the approval process in Nebraska all over again.
Earlier this year, TransCanada said it had secured 20-year commitments for a total 500,000 bpd for the Keystone XL pipeline that should carry Albertan heavy crude to U.S. refineries in the Midwest. The project received the support of the Alberta government as well. This amount is about 60 percent of the 830,000-bpd pipeline, and opponents argue that it is not enough to make the project commercially viable.
TransCanada said that with these commitments, the first stages of construction of the US$8-billion Keystone XL could start in 2019. Now, an unfavorable court ruling could move the start date further down the road.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.