The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline said Thursday that it will move ahead on the project after gaining enough customers to make the oil pipeline viable for the next two decades.
TransCanada announced that it has enough customer interest to ship 500,000 barrels of oil per day over the next 20 years, the company said a week ahead of the one-year anniversary of President Trump's signing an executive order to expedite the project's approval after nearly a decade of delays.
The company made the announcement after concluding its "open season" process for the pipeline, which is the period when proposed pipelines attract customers. The success of the open season in attracting customers is used to determine whether the pipeline gets built.
"Interest in the project remains strong and TransCanada will look to continue to secure additional long-term contracted volumes," the company said. TransCanada did not commit to building the pipeline, however.
Russ Girling, the company's president and CEO, thanked President Trump, as well as state and Canadian officials, for supporting the project. Trump made the cross-border energy project one of his top campaign promises.
Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 24, 2017, to expedite the State Department's permit approval for the northern leg of the pipeline that crosses the border with Canada. The Keystone XL will link to an existing segment of the line further south to connect Canadian oil producers with Gulf Coast oil refiners.
The pipeline project has become highly politicized with many other energy projects, such as the Dakota Access pipeline. Under former President Barack Obama's administration, the Keystone XL pipeline's permit approval from the State Department was delayed for seven years before being rejected by the former president ahead of the Paris climate change meeting in 2015.
But climate change activists blasted the company's announcement of a successful open season as nothing more than unsubstantiated "bluster."
"TransCanada's statement shows that the company has still not secured the customers it needs for its Keystone XL pipeline," said Patrick McCully, the Rainforest Action Network's climate and energy director. The group has been a staunch opponent of the project for years.
"It’s just bluster from TransCanada to pretend that this unnecessary and unwanted pipeline is close to proceeding," McCully said. "It still faces enormous regulatory and legal hurdles and continued fierce opposition from landowners, farmers, indigenous peoples, and activists alike."