Pipeline company TransCanada said it made a decision to move ahead with its Energy East pipeline designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.
The company said the project is expected to cost more than $12 billion. Deliveries for Quebec are expected by 2017 and for New Brunswick by 2018.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the project would help offset the estimated 700,000 bpd imported from overseas markets to feed eastern refineries.
"Initiatives like this could allow Canadian refineries to process more potentially lower priced Canadian oil, enhancing Canada's energy security and making our country less reliant on foreign oil," he said in a statement Thursday.
TransCanada and Canadian officials are lobbying the U.S. government to back the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring so-called tar sands oil from Alberta to southern U.S. refineries. Critics of the project have expressed concern about the environmental threat posed by heavy Canadian crude oil.
Oliver and TransCanada said they're committed to environmental safety.
"Energy East will be designed and operated with a singular focus on safety -- that is what Canadians expect and that is what TransCanada will deliver," TransCanada President Russ Girling said in a statement.