01/15/2014 01:23 EST | Updated 03/17/2014 05:59 EDT

No 'Plan B' For Keystone XL, TransCanada CEO Says

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling says the company doesn't have a backup plan in case the Keystone XL pipeline isn't approved, because the market forces in favour of shipping Canadian oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast are just too big to be denied.

"We …​ don't really have a plan B," Girling said in an interview to air Wednesday on CBC's The Lang & O'Leary Exchange.

TransCanada has been trying to build the Keystone XL pipeline, a massive, 1,900-kilometre pipeline that will ship unrefined Canadian oil from Hardisty, Alta., all the way through six U.S. states to oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The project is touted as an economic necessity that will benefit all stakeholders, but environmentalists have rallied against the project in an attempt to stop it. After multiple delays, the pipeline has yet to receive final U.S. government approval to go ahead for all segments.

Girling said there is simply too much oil being produced in North America to not have new pipelines to ship it efficiently. The U.S. is producing about 1.5 million more barrels per day now than when the project was first envisioned, and Canada's oilsands have increased output by about 700,000 barrels a day, he notes.

Refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast have the capacity to process about 7.5 million barrels per day, of which about four million are currently being imported.

"It's inevitable we build a pipeline from growing production to growing market," Girling said in the interview. "It just has to happen. It's just a matter of time for how we get this done."

"There will be a pipeline that exists between those two places," he added. "The market forces will drive that … it's just too big."

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