TC Energy Corp. won a procedural skirmish in the courts for its Keystone XL oil export pipeline proposal, but the victory has come too late for construction to start this year.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last Thursday that by granting a new permit to the cross-border project in March, the Trump administration had made a lower court injunction handed down last fall against Keystone moot, with no practical significance.

However, TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Corp., recently told shareholders the appeal took too long for a favorable verdict to salvage the 2019 construction season. No moves were made after the new ruling to start stalled U.S. activity. Preliminary work has begun on Keystone XL’s Canadian side.

Environmental and native opponents vowed to keep on fighting the 830,000 b/d oilsands export conduit by finding new legal resistance avenues. A state court verdict is still awaited on a contested route for the Nebraska leg of Keystone XL.