05/03/2012 02:15 EDT | Updated 07/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Keystone XL Pipeline: TransCanada To Reapply For Permit As Soon As Friday, Reports Say

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CALGARY - TransCanada won't confirm a report in the Washington Post that it will reapply for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline as soon as Friday.

A person familiar with TransCanada's (TSX:TRP) plans spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has not yet been made, the newspaper said Thursday.

CEO Russ Girling told reporters following TransCanada's annual general meeting last Friday that the new application is "imminent." Company spokesman Terry Cunha said Thursday that Girling's comment still stands, with no specific date being provided.

The Obama administration rejected the US$7.6-billion project in its entirety earlier this year, though it left the door open for TransCanada to take another crack at it.

The White House says the decision had less to do with the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline's merits than moves by Republicans in Congress to speed up the process.

TransCanada has since decided to go ahead first with the southern portion of Keystone XL connecting Cushing, Okla., to the U.S. Gulf Coast, which does not require a presidential sign-off. That $2.3-billion portion should come into service in mid- to late-2013.

The reapplication would be for a portion from the Canada-U.S. border to Steele City, Neb. The National Energy Board has already approved the Canadian segment of the line from Hardisty, Alta.

TransCanada recently came up with a new route through Nebraska to skirt the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region, which the state government is now reviewing. That state process would take place parallel to the upcoming federal review, Girling said on Friday.

Critics of Keystone XL say the project would increase U.S. dependence on "dirty" oilsands crude and cause harm to the American heartland in the event of a spill.

Supporters say the project will offer a big boost to the U.S. economy and reduce the amount of crude the United States has to import from unfriendly countries.

TransCanada shares fell 49 cents to $42.95 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Thursday afternoon.