TransCanada aims to build the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver crude oil from Alberta to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. The project requires approval from the U.S. government because it would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.
Girling told Bloomberg News that TransCanada may decide next month whether to invest in a new project planned for the East Coast by 2017. That pipeline, he said, would carry as much as 900,000 barrels of oil per day.
"Production from the oil sands and U.S. production sources is expected to grow a couple million barrels a day, which means that we need, as an industry, probably three Keystones to get that oil to market," he said. "If Keystone doesn't get approved, the oil will still get to the Gulf Coast."
Environmental groups in Quebec may wage strong opposition to TransCanada's East Coast plans. Crude oil from Canada is considered more of an environmental threat, sparking opposition to projects from Keystone XL to Enbridge's Northern Gateway proposal for British Columbia.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she had "no doubt" that Keystone XL would come up during Friday meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry and Canadian officials in Washington.