May 1 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp, Canada's second largest pipeline operator, reported a 10 percent rise in comparable earnings, helped by the positive impact of a stronger U.S. dollar on its U.S. pipeline operations and profits at its power businesses.
TransCanada, the company behind the C$8 billion ($6.6 billion) Keystone XL and C$12 billion Energy East pipelines, also said demand for new long haul infrastructure remains strong, despite the plunge in the oil price in the last year.
The Calgary-based company continues to mull alternative sites for a second oil export port for its Energy East project and the cost of the 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) line could be impacted depending on where, or even if, a second export port is built, chief executive Russ Girling said on Friday.
"Where that terminal will be, if there is a terminal - will all have implications on costs," Girling told reporters at the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, noting that it was too early to reevaluate Energy East's price tag.
Girling added that the pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the Alberta oil sands to refineries and an export port in Eastern Canada, could face additional cost pressures as it moves into detailed engineering, rerouting and mitigation work.
On the natural gas project side, TransCanada said it expects permit decisions in the second quarter on two natural gas pipeline plans that will serve proposed liquefied natural gas terminals on Canada's Pacific Coast.
The pipelines, one that would ship gas to a Petronas-led LNG project near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and the other serving a Royal Dutch Shell-led LNG project near Kitimat, British Columbia, will only be built if the export terminals go ahead.
Comparable earnings, which exclude most one-time items, rose to C$465 million ($381 million), or 66 Canadian cents a share, in the first quarter. That compared with C$422 million, or 60 Canadian cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.
That was in line with the average analyst estimate of 66 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net income attributable to shareholders fell 6.1 percent to C$387 million, hurt by hedging losses related to debt.
TransCanada's shares closed up 0.45 percent at C$56.25 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Additional reporting by Sneha Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr, Savio D'Souza, Peter Galloway and Andrew Hay)
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