A question of semantics has come in the way of TransCanada Corp’s (TSX: TRP) Keystone XL dreams. A Texan judge has ruled that documents the company signed with land-owner Michael Bishop only specifies crude oil, but not bitumen; as a result, TransCanada must cease development of a section of the pipeline—for a period of at least two weeks—that would run underneath land Bishop owns.
It’s a crafty move, to be sure, but also technically permissible. Bitumen is the semi-solid stage of petroleum that is originally harvested from Canada’s tar sands, and needs to be treated so as to liquefy it for transportation via pipelines.
But TransCanada isn’t too concerned about the suit.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
“Under Texas law, TransCanada has been granted the legal authority to construct this pipeline,” said TransCanada spokesman David Dodson. “Construction has commenced on the property that is the subject of the temporary restraining order, and the product the Gulf Coast Pipeline will transport is crude oil. Mr. Bishop’s request does not impact overall construction, and we are on track to bring this pipeline into operation in late 2013.”
This is merely the latest in a series of obstacles the Keystone project has encountered. The biggest one is still up in the air—President Obama has yet to officially approve the project. That decision is expected early in the new year.