* State Dept needs to take series of steps
* Environmental review due any day
* No time frame for national interest determination
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline will not be made until at least June, a U.S. official said, which would delay the project for months and frustrate backers of Canada’s oil sands.
“We’re talking the beginning of summer at the earliest,” said the source, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the TransCanada Corp project, which has been pending for more than four and a half years. “It’s not weeks until the final decision. It’s months.”
A series of steps still have to be taken by the State Department, where the decision will be made because the 830,000 barrels per day crude oil pipeline crosses the national border. The pipeline will link Alberta’s oil sands and North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields to refineries and ports in Texas.
The State Department did not comment for this story, but last week a spokeswoman said it did not anticipate making the decision before the end of March. Previously, the department had hinted the decision could come in the middle of the first quarter.
The administration may be delaying because the pipeline has become a symbol for both opponents and supporters of development of Canada’s vast oil sands.