Keystone Owner TransCanada's Profit Beats On US Demand
April 27 (Reuters) - Keystone XL pipeline operator TransCanada Corp capitalized on higher demand for Canadian heavy oil at U.S. refineries, beating profit estimates for the first quarter on Friday.
Pipelines shipping heavy crude from Canada to refineries in Texas have been running at full capacity after the country's oil output hit a record last year.
TransCanada said earnings from its oil pipelines, of which Keystone is the biggest contributor, rose 50 percent to C$341 million ($264.90 million) in the first quarter ended March 31.
The company did not give an update on its final investment decision on the controversial expansion of Keystone, which would increase export capacity from the oil-rich province of Alberta to U.S. refineries. The company had earlier said it expects to start construction in 2019.
The expansion has pitted environmentalists worried about spills and global warming against industry advocates who say the project will shore up discounted Canadian oil prices and attract investment to Alberta's oil sands.
"We continue to advance more than $20 billion of medium- to longer-term projects, including Keystone XL, Coastal GasLink and the Bruce Power life extension program," TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said.
The company expects to invest C$21 billion in the near term, down from the C$23 billion it had earmarked earlier.
TransCanada said earnings from its Canadian natural gas pipelines fell 10.2 percent to C$253 million in the reported quarter.
Net income rose to C$734 million, or 83 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter from C$643 million, or 74 Canadian cents per share, for the same period in 2017. (https://bit.ly/2r4qjZn)
Excluding items, TransCanada earned 98 Canadian cents per share, beating analysts' average estimate by 14 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose marginally to C$3.42 billion from C$3.41 billion.
($1 = 1.2873 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru and Julie Gordon in Toronto Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
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