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Harper to Visit New York in Push for Keystone Approval

May 9 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit the U.S. next week as Canada intensifies efforts to secure approval of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Harper will be interviewed by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin at an event in New York organized by the Council of Foreign Relations, the organization said in an e-mailed advisory.

Harper will follow a path well worn recently by federal cabinet ministers and provincial leaders. Alberta Premier Alison Redford promoted the $5.3 billion pipeline to Democrat and Republican lawmakers last month, her fourth trip to Washington in a year and a half, after Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s March visit.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver met last month in Washington with officials including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, State Department Undersecretary Robert Hormats, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan.

The Keystone project, under State Department review, would carry heavy crude from Canadian oil-sands fields to U.S. refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, Obama denied a permit for the line, citing concerns tied to Nebraska’s drinking water, and Calgary-based TransCanada resubmitted its plan with a new route.

A draft State Department analysis of Keystone, released in March, said the project posed no significant risks to the environment, though it made no recommendation as to whether the pipeline should be built.

Pipeline Bottlenecks

Canadian policy makers and provincial leaders say pipeline bottlenecks are constraining exports, curbing growth and stifling government revenue.

The price of Western Canada Select, an oil-sands blend, was a record $42.50 a barrel less than the U.S. benchmark in December. The difference has since narrowed as output slipped and on speculation of higher U.S. demand from refineries.

Canadian energy stocks have underperformed U.S. peers by about 13 percentage points over the last year, as the price gap between Canadian heavy oil and the main U.S. crude grade widened, figures compiled by Bloomberg show.

Harper said April 11 the federal government is lobbying for approval of Keystone XL at “every level” in coordination with the nation’s provinces. Harper said he has spoken to President Barack Obama on “several occasions.” Obama has said he intends to rule on the project this year.

“This is a matter that I think is vital to both the economic growth and energy security, not just of all of Canada, but the United States as well,” he told reporters in Calgary.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Mayeda in Ottawa at amayeda@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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