Canadian energy company TransCanada has secured 20-year oil supply contracts allowing it to move forward with the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, it announced Thursday in a statement.
Preparation for construction has already begun, the company said.
"We appreciate Alberta Premier Rachel Notley for her government's commitment to the project which was instrumental to achieving the commercial support needed to proceed", said Girling in a news release.
The limits on oil export capacity has exacerbated the discount that Canadian oil producers are forced to accept for their crude relative to West Texas Intermediate, which also hurts the royalty payments Alberta's government collects from the industry.
"By ensuring that we can transport our product as cheaply and as efficiently and as safely as possible in all manners, we're able to ensure the greatest return for Albertans". It did not commit barrels on either Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the West Coast or on Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 to the U.S. Midwest.
By contrast, oil companies had taken up 80 per cent, or 708,000 bpd, of Kinder Morgan Canada's expanded Trans Mountain pipeline system between Alberta and British Columbia, deliberately leaving 20 per cent open for spot shipments.
Adam Scott at environmental advocacy group Oil Change International criticized the province's support for the project.
"The government needs to ditch the prehistoric energy positions and start getting Alberta back on track by investing in technologies and energies of the future, not the past", said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema in a statement.
"We are progressing towards final investment decision of this project".
Primary construction expected to begin in 2019, TransCanada said. In the press release, TransCanada said it is continuing outreach in the communities where the pipeline will be constructed and is working collaboratively with landowners in an open and transparent way to obtain the necessary easements for the approved route.
In November, TransCanada received state approval in Nebraska to construct the project there using an alternate route, a decision that may spur added legal action by foes who say the new path hasn't received the same review as the original plan.
-With a file from Lauren Krugel in Calgary.