CALGARY, Alberta, July 24 (UPI) -- A 56-mile pipeline planned through Alberta will be a foundation to plans to increase oil sands production in the province, TransCanada said.
The Alberta Energy Regulator approved TransCanada's plans to build the Northern Courier pipeline from the Fort Hills oil sands extraction facility to a tank facility operated by energy company Suncor in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
"We are pleased that the Alberta Energy Regulator has approved Northern Courier, which will be a critical piece of infrastructure to support the long-term plans for growth and increased production from the Alberta oil sands," Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said in a statement.
TransCanada said the pipeline will add to its portfolio of 14,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and 2,100 miles of oil pipelines in Alberta.
The company's pipeline ambitions have come up against stiff opposition. Oil sands, the heavier grade of crude oil found in Alberta, is viewed as more toxic to the environment than conventional oil and production is said to be carbon-intensive.
TransCanada said construction on Northern Courier will start in the third quarter and be ready for commercial service by 2017.