Montreal (AFP)

The first bone of contention between Justin Trudeau and Joe Biden almost five months ago, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project between Canada and the United States, denounced by environmental activists, was officially buried on Wednesday.

"TC Energy today confirmed after a full review of its options and in consultation with its partner, the Government of Alberta, that it has terminated the Keystone XL pipeline project," the Canadian operator said in a statement. .

The Canadian group had announced the suspension of work a few hours before the signing of the decree by Mr. Biden on January 20, as soon as he took office.

The group based in Calgary, in Western Canada, had expressed its disappointment, announcing accordingly "the layoff of thousands of unionized workers".

For its part, the Government of Alberta said it had also quit the project and said "explore all options" to recover its investment, according to a press release.

The province estimates that the abandonment of the project should cost it 1.3 billion Canadian dollars (881 million euros).

- "Disappointed and frustrated" -

"We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding Keystone XL, including the cancellation of the presidential permit allowing the pipeline to cross the border," said Premier Jason Kenney.

Alberta concentrates most of the country's oil reserves, Canada's main export product.

This project, supported by Ottawa but criticized by environmentalists, was launched in 2008. Canceled for the first time by Barack Obama because it was considered too polluting, it had been put back on track by Donald Trump for economic reasons.

The revocation of his predecessor's decree was one of Joe Biden's campaign promises, as part of his plan to fight climate change.

It had also aroused the disappointment of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had pledged to complete Keystone XL and other pipelines in order to bring Canadian oil to other markets and obtain a better price. .

Canada has the third-largest proven reserves in the world, mainly contained in the oil sands of the west whose exploitation is criticized for its environmental impact.

The oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan (center), already affected by falling oil prices, should pay a high price for this abandonment of the project, according to experts.

The latter was to allow the transport of more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day from 2023 between the Canadian province of Alberta and the American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

But, according to environmentalists, it would have resulted in too many greenhouse gas emissions.

TC Energy resumed last year construction work on the northern portion of the pipeline, 1,947 km long, between the Canadian border and the state of Nebraska, work on the southern portion to Texas having already been completed.

TC Energy estimated the costs of this work at 9.1 billion US dollars (7.5 billion euros).

Keystone is not the only subject of disagreement in this sector between Canada and the United States.

Last month, Ottawa announced that it had taken legal action to block a Michigan decision ordering the closure of a cross-border pipeline from Canada's Enbridge, deemed "worrying" by Justin Trudeau.

This Ottawa intervention follows an order by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer calling on Enbridge to close line 5 of the pipeline as of May 12, also for environmental reasons.

This cross-border pipeline transports up to 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas from Western Canada to Ontario, Quebec and several American states every day.

© 2021 AFP