TransCanada Corp. says it has confirmed strong commercial support for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
TransCanada says interest in the project remains strong and it will look to continue to secure additional long-term contracted volumes.
In November, Nebraska regulators approved a route for the pipeline though the state, but not the company's preferred choice, instead shifting the path away from sensitive ecological areas.
The company must still secure land rights along the new route, which runs through western Colfax and Butler counties, and fend off legal challenges by landowners and environmental groups who oppose the pipeline.
It says construction preparation has started and will increase as the permitting process advances throughout this year, with primary construction expected to begin in 2019. It is working with landowners along the new path to obtain the neccessary easements, the company said.
The pipeline would ship 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect to TransCanada's existing Keystone system that carries crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast hub of refineries and export terminals.
The project was first proposed almost a decade ago, and was originally scuttled by then-President Barack Obama in 2015. President Donald Trump breathed new life into the project soon after he took office past year, approving it in March.
With Thursday's announcement, the company showed no signs of backing down.
"Over the last 12 months, the Keystone XL project has achieved several milestones that move us significantly closer to constructing this critical energy infrastructure for North America", Russ Girling, TransCanada's chief executive officer, said in the statement. That decision was reversed by the Trump administration.