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Your move, Mr. President

The Keystone XL project moves one step closer to completion. Will the President give it the green light?

When he was younger, Max Fawcett wanted to make a mint in the markets. Now as the managing editor of Alberta Venture he gets to write about them. Close enough, right? He can be reached at

Jan 24, 2013

by Max Fawcett

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is one step closer to becoming a reality, and the only thing that stands in its way now is the President of the United States of America. On Tuesday, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved the pipeline’s amended route that skirts the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

Members of the U.S. Senate didn’t waste any time in turning up the heat on the president. Fifty-three Senators – 44 Republicans and 9 Democrats – signed their names to a letter encouraging the President – urging, really – to give the project his seal of approval. “Nebraska has now addressed the outstanding concerns you raised when you denied the permit, and we therefore urge you to finish expeditiously the review process and approve the pipeline,” their letter read.

The U.S. State Department dashed any hopes of a speedy approval yesterday, though, noting that it wouldn’t be making a decision on the project before the end of March. In an update, FirstEnergy’s Steven Paget described the news as market neutral (for TransCanada’s shares, anyways), noting that it doesn’t necessarily mean a delay in the completion date of Keystone XL. “A delay of three months from State could mean a delay of three months in the completion date,” Paget writes, “but TransCanada might also be able to find ways to still complete the line by January 1, 2015.”

Meanwhile, another joint venture agreement with an Asian partner sent the shares of an Alberta energy company soaring. Bellatrix Exploration (TSE:BXE) leaped more than 10 per cent on Tuesday after it announced that it had signed a deal worth $300 million with an unnamed Seoul-based partner. The secret partner will contribute half of that figure, all of which will go towards drilling 83 wells on the company’s Cardium acreage.

Bellatrix executive vice-president Brent Eshleman told the Calgary Herald that the company had been looking for a partner for “three or four years” in order to accelerate its drilling program. His company isn’t done looking for partners either, given that it would cost upwards of $8 billion (and take more than a decade) for the company to drill out its inventory (which includes land in the suddenly red-hot Duvernay).




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