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TransCanada works politics into project plans

CALGARY - The public furor over pipelines in recent years is changing the way TransCanada Corp. tackles new projects.

In a year-end interview, CEO Russ Girling says the company won't start procuring materials or securing land for pipelines until it knows for sure it has regulatory approval to go ahead.

He says it used to be that the process could be completed in two to three years, but now it's taking six or seven years to get a project from the conception phase to startup.

TransCanada (TSX:TRP) has already spent $2.5 billion on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline even though the northern portion is still awaiting a federal permit — something Girling says the company aims to avoid in the future.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration rejected the initial iteration of Keystone XL, which would have connected oilsands crude to Gulf Coast refineries, but said TransCanada was welcome to reapply.

TransCanada says construction on the southern leg, which doesn't require a federal permit, is about 35 per cent complete and that a decision on the rest is expected in the next few months.

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