CALGARY, Alberta Oct 31 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc will ship 75,000 barrels per day of heavy Canadian crude to Texas refineries on TransCanada Corp's new Gulf Coast pipeline by the end of next year, the company said in an earnings call on Thursday.
Suncor, Canada's largest oil and gas producer, expects to begin filling the 700,000 bpd pipeline, also called Keystone South by some market players, in the fourth quarter of 2013.
That will enable the company to ship 50,000 bpd of oil sands crude to the Gulf Coast region, with capacity ramping up to 75,000 bpd by the end of 2014.
"You will see that going to probably 75,000 bpd by the end of next year, down to the Gulf, which is certainly ample for current and future production," said Steve Douglas, Suncor's vice president of investor relations.
TransCanada has said it expects testing on the pipeline, which will ship crude from the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point of the U.S. oil futures contract to Nederland, Texas, to be completed by early November.
The market has been focused on the pipeline's startup as it will provide another route to the Gulf Coast refining center for inventories of crude that swelled to record levels earlier this year at Cushing due to surging production from Canada, North Dakota and Texas.
Some market participants said Suncor was thought to be one of the biggest shippers on the Gulf Coast pipeline, and expressed surprise that it would be moving only 75,000 bpd.
"I think people are curious as to why that number is so low. I'm not sure what people were expecting to see, but if they were supposed to be the largest shippers, then that 50-75,00 bpd might sound a bit low," said one market source, who asked to remain anonymous as he was unauthorised to speak to the media.