U.S. President Barack Obama has told federal agencies to speed up the approval process of a nearly 800-kilometre long oil pipeline from Oklahoma to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The pipeline would help form the southern leg of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Dave Collyer, head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum, says the proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast is still missing approval for the northern leg of the $7.6 billion project.

“What we’ve said to the company is we’re happy to review future permits, and today we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf a priority,” Obama said.

He spoke in Cushing, Oklahoma, where construction is expected to begin this spring.

“Right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down in the Gulf Coast,” Obama said.

“Today I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”

Obama is trying to rebut accusations that he has stifled domestic energy production and has been too eager to spend government money on renewable energy projects.