TransCanada eyes joint ventures, sales to fund Keystone XL

(Reuters) - Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada Corp said on Thursday it is eyeing joint ventures and asset sales, among other options, to finance the construction of its $8 billion Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

The Calgary-based company also said it has had substantial interest from potential partners for its Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which will carry natural gas to the LNG Canada export terminal in British Columbia.

“In terms of where we would ultimately end up in terms of equity ownership, I’d give you a range of us retaining somewhere between 25 percent and 49 percent ownership, post bringing in JV partners,” said Chief Executive Russ Girling on a conference call.

TransCanada said it will start construction on the 670 kilometer (420 miles) gas pipeline in 2019, despite a jurisdictional review by the National Energy Board.

The company did not say when it expects to make a final investment decision on Keystone XL, but said it continues to work toward construction on the 830,000 barrel-per-day oil pipeline in 2019 and is looking at all options for financing.

“We do have a sizeable portfolio of saleable assets, contracted, that we would be willing to part with to fund part of the Keystone XL program,” said Girling. “We would entertain JV partners on this project.”

The company did not say how much stake it would want to retain in Keystone XL, which it is has been developing for more than a decade.

The project has galvanized environmentalists, tribal groups and ranchers in opposition to the $8 billion 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline that would carry heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. From there the crude would be sent to refineries and potentially for export.

TransCanada said it now expects a decision on routing from the Nebraska Supreme Court by the first quarter of 2019, as oral hearings began on Thursday.

It is also anticipating a Montana court ruling in December, along with a final environmental assessment report on routing changes that month, and additional permits issued by early 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump has backed the project, which was axed by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns emission concerns.

The company, which reported a 52 percent rise in third-quarter results, said earnings from its liquids pipelines business rose 56 percent to C$316 million.

Net income rose to C$928 million ($708.18 million), or C$1.02 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, from C$612 million, or 70 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Shares were up 3.1 percent at C$51.18 in Toronto.

($1 = 1.3104 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Calgary, Alberta and John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Arun Koyyur