Gov. Brian Schweitzer is hoping for construction to start in early 2013 on the Keystone XL pipeline after a recent meeting with its builders.
Schweitzer met with TransCanada company officials Monday in Calgary.
The governor has recently been defending the work of the Obama administration on the pipeline, arguing he believes it will get federal approval once the company submits a permit request.
The governor says TransCanda may be able to formally seek federal approval this fall, perhaps allowing for a federal permit late in the year. That would allow the company to meet critical deadlines to ensure construction can begin in 2013.
Schweitzer says the company remains excited about building an on-ramp for eastern Montana oil that the governor helped negotiate as part of the Montana state permitting process.