UPDATE 3-TransCanada says delays to Energy East has cost Canada billions

Fri Apr 29, 2016 4:58pm EDT
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(Recasts; adds Energy East comments)

By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, April 29 (Reuters) - Delays in approving TransCanada Corp's Energy East pipeline have cost Canada's struggling economy billions of dollars, the company's chief executive said on Friday, adding he was hopeful regulators would finish their review by 2018 as scheduled.

Speaking on Friday after TransCanada reported a drop in quarterly profits that still came in above expectations, the company's Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said the No. 2 pipeline operator has had difficulty sticking to project schedules.

Last November U.S. President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline to the United States after a seven-year delay.

TransCanada is pressing ahead with its 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East project from Alberta's oil sands to Canada's Atlantic coast, which is also facing environmental opposition and regulatory headwinds.

Interim rules for environmental reviews from the new Liberal government introduced January imposed a delay on Energy East, and this week the National Energy Board released a preliminary timeline for its review of the project, which should be finished by March 2018.

Girling, who was speaking at a news conference after the company's annual meeting in Calgary, said improving market access by getting new pipelines built would narrow the discount at which heavy Canadian crude trades to benchmark U.S. crude.

"The delay is already costing our economy billions of dollars. Those are the kinds of numbers that have already come out of the economy because we haven't gotten these things done over the last few years," Girling said.   Continued...