UPDATE 2-Severe winter boosts TransCanada profit as KXL delay drags on

Fri May 2, 2014 5:17pm EDT
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(Adds CEO comment on Keystone XL delay)

May 2 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp, Canada's No.2 pipeline company and the backer of the Keystone XL pipeline, reported a 14 percent rise in adjusted quarterly profit as an unusually harsh winter in North America boosted demand for its pipelines.

Delivery volumes rose 24 percent in the company's Canadian Mainline gas pipeline system and 14 percent in the NGTL system in Western Canada in the first three months of the year.

"An unseasonably cold winter resulted in strong demand for our critical pipeline and power infrastructure assets," Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said in a statement.

Girling said the recently completed Keystone Gulf Coast crude pipeline between Cushing, Oklahoma, and the U.S. Gulf Coast, expected to carry on average 520,000 barrels per day in 2014, had also helped TransCanada increase earnings.

Comparable earnings, which exclude most one-time items, rose to C$422 million ($385 million), or 60 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from C$370 million, or 52 Canadian cents per share.

The company said net income attributable to common shareholders fell to C$412 million, or 58 Canadian cents per share, from C$446 million, or 63 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier. The year-earlier quarter included C$84 million of net income related to an impact of a regulatory decision on the company's Canadian Mainline system.

TransCanada is best known for its controversial $5.4 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has been awaiting U.S. approvals for more than five years amid bitter opposition from environmental groups.

The U.S. State Department said in April it would delay deciding whether the pipeline is in national interest until a legal dispute is settled in Nebraska.   Continued...