January 25, 2018 / 7:54 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 2-Keystone XL pipeline route change is not major issue -TransCanada CEO

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By Rod Nickel

Jan 25 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp does not see a route change for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to Nebraska as a major issue, and the company is confident a key regulatory approval will stand, Chief Executive Russ Girling said on Thursday.

Analyzing the November approval by Nebraska Public Service Commission was an important factor in TransCanada's deliberations on a final investment decision on whether to build the $8 billion pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, Girling told a CIBC investor conference in Whistler, British Columbia.

The company now believes the ruling, which opponents are appealing, is legally "solid," Girling said. TransCanada has still not made a final investment decision.

The Nebraska commission approved the pipeline, but not TransCanada's preferred path. The new, approved route will add $100 million to $200 million in cost, Girling said.

"We're committed to moving this project forward but .. we've got a lot of bruises of not being really careful," he said. "So we'll just be really careful with how we spend our money through the next 12 months."

The pipeline would increase the flow of landlocked heavy crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries.

TransCanada is focused on acquiring additional right of way for the route change, a process that should last until the third or fourth quarter, in time to start construction next year, Girling said.

Last week, TransCanada said it had lined up enough long-term commitments from shippers for the pipeline.

TransCanada shares fell 2 percent in Toronto to C$58.02, compared with a 0.9 percent drop for the exchange's energy index. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Susan Thomas and Peter Cooney)

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