Keystone XL pipe has adequate commercial support: TransCanada

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp TRP.TO has received adequate support from crude oil shippers on its long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, but the parties still need to work out specific terms, the company said on Thursday as it reported a rise in quarterly earnings.

A TransCanada Keystone Pipeline pump station operates outside Steele City, Nebraska March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom

The pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude to U.S. refineries, has been delayed for more than eight years by regulatory hurdles as North American energy projects face increasing opposition from environmentalists.

A period for gauging interest from shippers ended in late October. While Canadian Natural Resources Ltd CNQ.TO, one of the country's largest producers, said last week it has increased its commitment, there was concern among industry participants that other producers may no longer be as keen as oil sands growth slows.

TransCanada’s ‎liquids pipelines President Paul Miller said on a conference call the company has obtained the desired volume commitment of about 500,000 barrels per day.

“We do have various conditions attached,” he said, without disclosing the terms from shippers. “I believe the conditions are manageable.”

Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada said in its third-quarter earnings statement it expects the introduction of new shippers and reductions in volume commitments by others.

“We anticipate commercial support for the project to be substantially similar to that which existed when we first applied for a Keystone XL pipeline permit” in 2008, the company said.

It has said it will decide by December whether to proceed with the project after gauging shipper demand and is awaiting a decision from the state of Nebraska, through which the pipeline passes, by the end of this month.

“We still have a lot to do on both those events,” Miller said. “We let those two events play out, and that will give us greater visibility into our investment, final investment decision.”

TransCanada’s net income attributable to shareholders was C$612 million ($482 million), or 70 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of C$135 million, or 17 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

The year-ago quarter included an after-tax goodwill impairment charge of C$656 million.

Excluding items, the company earned 70 Canadian cents per share, in line with analysts’ average estimate.

TransCanada’s revenue fell 10.7 percent to C$3.24 billion, but beat analysts’ estimate of C$3.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

TransCanada shares were last down 0.9 percent at C61.34 on Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru and Nia Williams and Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Dan Grebler