November 27, 2018 / 9:34 PM / 21 days ago

TransCanada asks Montana court to allow preliminary work on Keystone XL

FILE PHOTO: A TransCanada Keystone Pipeline pump station operates outside Steele City, Nebraska March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom/File Photo

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp has asked a Montana court to allow it to resume pre-construction activities on its Keystone XL oil pipeline after a U.S. judge blocked construction on the $8 billion project earlier this month.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company has temporarily halted all pre-construction work in the United States on the pipeline project as a result of the ruling, TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said on Tuesday.

He added that the company does not expect to start full construction on the 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline until “at least the second half of the first quarter of 2019,” but declined to provide further details on timing.

“It is too soon to say what the injunction will mean to the timeline and cost of the Keystone XL pipeline but we remain confident the project will be built,” Cunha said.

A U.S. judge in Montana issued an injunction on Nov. 8 blocking construction of the heavy crude pipeline from Canada to the United States, drawing praise from environmental groups and a rebuke from President Donald Trump.

TransCanada has filed an amendment with the Montana District Court to narrow the scope of the injunction to allow it to continue pre-construction work like meetings with stakeholders, the movement of pipe and equipment, and early right-of-way work.

Canada is the No.1 source of oil imported to the United States, but congested pipelines in Alberta, where heavy bitumen is extracted from the oil sands, have forced shippers to use costlier rail and trucks.

Shares of TransCanada closed up 0.72 percent at C$53.50 on Tuesday in Toronto.

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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