May 1, 2020 / 12:09 PM / in a month

UPDATE 3-TC Energy's Keystone XL pipeline could see 1-year delay after U.S. court setback

(Recasts with possible delay to Keystone XL)

By Rod Nickel and Arundhati Sarkar

May 1 (Reuters) - TC Energy Corp could face up to a one-year delay building the Keystone XL oil pipeline after a U.S. legal setback, and is looking at options to keep work progressing, a company executive said on Friday.

Keystone XL, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day of crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest, has been delayed for more than a decade by opposition from landowners, environmental groups and tribes.

A U.S. court on April 15 ruled against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ use of a permit that allows new energy pipelines to cross water bodies, in the latest setback to Keystone XL. The ruling does not affect current work on a span of the $8 billion pipeline across the Canada-U.S. border, but it raises questions about securing water-crossing permits for the rest of the route.

“The long-term potential delay with any of these very omnibus filings or motions to vacate a permit that broad could have up to a year delay on the ultimate project,” Bevin Wirzba, senior vice president of Liquids Pipelines, said on a quarterly call with analysts.

Calgary, Alberta-based TC is considering options to continue construction even if it runs into obstacles in some areas, and is currently building work camps and moving pipe into position as planned, Wirzba said.

The company continues to plan for 2023 completion.

TC said in March it would proceed on Keystone XL with financial backing from the oil-producing province of Alberta.

The company on Friday reported quarterly profits that beat estimates, on higher demand for its natural gas pipelines in the United States and Canada, and raised its capital spending budget for the year to build Keystone XL. Capital expenditures for 2020 are now expected to be about C$10 billion ($7.14 billion), higher than an earlier projection of C$8 billion.

Worldwide restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic have slammed demand for oil. TC said it is assessing the potential for coronavirus-driven delays to its projects.

The company’s net income attributable to common shares in the quarter rose to C$1.15 billion, or C$1.22 per share, from C$1 billion, or C$1.09 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, TC Energy earned C$1.18 per share, above analysts’ average estimate of C$1.06 per share, according to Refinitiv data. ($1 = 1.4009 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Leslie Adler)

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