TransCanada mulls new oil line, no damage from Sandy

Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:59pm EDT
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By Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO: Quote) said on Tuesday it will decide early next year on whether to go ahead with a pipeline to carry up to one million barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta's oil sands to refineries in Eastern Canada and on the U.S. East Coast.

The company, Canada's largest pipeline operator, also reported a 4 percent drop in quarterly profit on Tuesday and said its power plants in the U.S. Northeast, including the 2,480-megawatt Ravenswood plant in the New York borough of Queens, were undamaged by Hurricane Sandy.

"The vast majority of our assets in New York and New England continued to operate through the storm," Alex Pourbaix, head of the company's energy division, said on a conference call.

TransCanada is looking to expand the reach of its pipeline network, and as well as studying the eastbound oil line it is proposing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to carry Alberta tar sands crude to Gulf of Mexico refineries.

The East Coast line would take crude oil from the oil sands and the Bakken shale oil region of North Dakota, Montana and southern Saskatchewan to eastern refineries that now rely on expensive imported crude as a feedstock.

The line, which the company calls the Mainline Conversion Project, would see an under-used cross-Canada natural gas pipeline converted to oil use and a new pipe built to extend its reach.

Russ Girling, TransCanada's chief executive, said the line could carry 500,000 to one million barrels a day of synthetic crude from the oil sands and light sweet crude from North Dakota's Bakken field to eastern refineries, few of which are configured to process the tar-like bitumen and heavier crudes that are Western Canada's primary oil product.

An end-point for the line will be determined after the company consults with shippers to gauge interest in the project, which could also fill tankers to take crude to refineries overseas.   Continued...