Varcoe: With U.S. vote, another white-knuckle moment for Keystone XL

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Construction began earlier this year after the UCP government made the investment and agreed to provide $6 billion in project loan guarantees.

Premier Jason Kenney announced, in Oyen, Alberta on Friday, July 3, 2020, that shovels are in the ground on the Alberta segment of the Keystone XL pipeline. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Meanwhile, TC Energy has been putting the blocks in place recently to build additional public and political support for the development.

Today, 1,500 workers on each side of the border are toiling away on the project. Earlier this week, it awarded contracts to six major U.S. contractors to build the pipeline in three states, creating more than 8,000 unionized jobs next year.

It also struck an agreement this summer with four major unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters, which support the venture.

In total, about 13,000 construction jobs are lined up for next summer between the two countries, said Richard Prior, president of Keystone XL Pipeline.

Work in Alberta has been going on since the summer and by year’s end, about 180 kilometres of pipeline construction will have been completed.

In the U.S., pipeline construction was delayed earlier this year by a legal ruling, so TC Energy pivoted to working on facilities and now has 12 pump stations being built.

TC Energy expects to have permits in hand by the end of the year to work in wetlands and waterway bodies in 2021.

While the project’s in-service date is set for 2023, Prior isn’t going to delve into the possible impact of next week’s vote.

“I am not going to speculate on U.S. politics,” Prior said in an interview. “We think we have got a very important project that will span the life of many future administrations and the need for the project is as important now as it’s ever been.”

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