UPDATE 2-Imperial says Kearl oil sands cost rises by C$2 billion
* Kearl budget rises by C$2 bln to C$12.9 bln
* Company expects first oil from site by end-Q1
* Extends deadline for sale of Dartmouth, N.S., refinery
* Q4 EPS C$1.26/shr vs year-earlier C$1.18/shr
* Shares rise 0.4 pct
By Scott Haggett and Ankur Banerjee
CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd said on Friday the cost of its recently completed Kearl oil sands project in northern Alberta ballooned to C$12.9 billion ($12.9 billion), nearly 20 percent above its last estimate, because of transportation delays and a harsh winter.
The company, which also reported a 7.1 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, said a series of court challenges in the U.S. Pacific Northwest that delayed the transport of foreign-made processing modules to the site forced a change in construction schedules and increased costs.
The final cost of the 110,000 barrel per day oil sands mine is C$2 billion above Imperial's last estimate, in 2011, and nearly two-thirds higher than its initial 2009 forecast of C$7.9 billion. Continued...