TransCanada Corp. is planning a binding open season this month to establish precedent agreements for oil transportation capacity on its proposed 1,870 mile Keystone oil pipeline project from Alberta to Illinois, which includes conversion of a 770-mile section of its natural gas mainline from near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border to just west of Winnipeg, MB.

TransCanada said it made some minor adjustments to the proposal after discussions with potential shippers during a nonbinding open season this summer. The $1.7 billion project, which was announced in February, would transport 400,000 b/d of crude oil from Hardisty, AB, to Patoka, IL. About 1,000 miles of the pipeline route in the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, would require greenfield pipeline construction and about 15 new pump stations. About 100 miles of the proposed route in Canada also would require greenfield construction with the remainder being a conversion of the existing natural gas pipeline to crude oil transportation.

The company plans to file applications for the project later this year and expects to begin construction in 2008 with service in 2009. However, CEO Hal Kvisle noted that if Enbridge’s competing Gateway pipeline project moves ahead it likely will have an impact on Keystone. Enbridge’s $895 million pipeline expansion also would provide 400,000 b/d of crude oil transportation from Hardisty to Chicago.

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