* No update on timing for Keystone XL
* Says Gulf Coast project in service “near” end of 2013
CALGARY, Alberta Nov 5 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp , which is backing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, said on Tuesday its third-quarter profit rose 30 percent on stronger results from its Canadian natural-gas mainline system and its electricity operations.
Net income attributable to common shares rose to C$481 million ($462.1 million), or 68 Canadian cents per share, from C$369 million, or 52 Canadian cents per share, in the year-prior quarter.
Comparable earnings, excluding most one-time items, rose 28 percent to C$447 million, or 63 Canadian cents per share. On that basis, it beat the average analyst estimate of 59 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company, Canada’s No. 2 pipeline operator, is still awaiting a presidential permit for the northern leg of the Keystone XL line. It did not say when it expects a decision from the Obama administration, but said the delay, which has stretched on for five years, would add to the project’s $5.3 billion budget.
The pipeline, facing fierce opposition from environmental groups, could carry more than 800,000 barrels per day from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast, providing relief for Canadian oil producers worried about tight pipeline capacity.
Construction on Keystone XL’s southern leg, the Gulf Coast project, is now 95 percent complete. TransCanada said it expects shipments on the line to begin near the end of 2013, a slight change from its prior statements that oil shipments from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf Coast would begin by year end.
TransCanada said cash flow for the quarter rose 21 percent to C$1.05 billion.