TC Energy files $15B US trade complaint for cancellation of Keystone XL permit

Calgary-based TC Energy says it has started a formal claim for over $15 billion US under the North American Free Trade Agreement over the cancellation of a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. 

The company says it has filed a notice of intent for damages under NAFTA with the U.S. State Department. The trade deal was replaced in 2020 but there is a three-year window to file complaints under the old agreement. 

Speaking in June when the company and the province said they were walking away from the project, James Coleman, an associate professor of energy law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the company could complain it was “treated in a discriminatory fashion.”

“With that said, nobody’s ever won a NAFTA suit against the United States. So I think most people would say your odds of success are less than 50-50,” he said at the time.

If completed, the 1,897-kilometre pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska. It would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The Alberta government agreed last year to invest about $1.5 billion as equity in the project, plus billions more in loan guarantees, in order to get the pipeline moving. 

As a result, the Canadian leg of the project had been under construction for several months with around 1,000 workers in southeast Alberta.

The provincial government said in June that it expected to lose $1.3 billion after ending the relationship with TC Energy, but also said it was keeping its legal options open. 

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