(Adds quote from executive, details on Upland capacity)
By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER, Feb 13 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp , Canada’s second-largest pipeline company, reported on Friday a better-than-expected fourth quarter profit, driven mainly by increased earnings from its Canadian operations.
The Calgary-based company, which operates oil and gas pipelines across North America, also said it has not yet seen any impact from the plunge in crude prices on its new and proposed oil pipeline projects.
“We haven’t had any impact from the decline in the commodity price,” said Paul Miller, TransCanada’s president of liquid pipelines, on a conference call with investors. “The shippers who have signed up for these pipes are still fully behind us.”
TransCanada is the company behind the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline and is also developing the C$12 billion ($9.6 billion) Energy East line, which would connect the Alberta oil sands to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.
The company said on Friday that it is moving ahead with its C$600 million Upland pipeline, which will carry 70,000 barrels-per-day from various source points in North Dakota, Alberta and Saskatchewan and connect those volumes with Energy East.
TransCanada also boosted its quarterly dividend by 8 percent to 52 Canadian cents per share, up from 48 Canadian cents in the last four quarters. Shares closed down 2.2 percent at C$57.23 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Comparable earnings from TransCanada’s cross-country Canadian Mainline pipeline, which carries natural gas from Empress, Alberta to Ontario, jumped 30 percent to C$396 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Comparable earnings from its Keystone pipeline system jumped 47 percent to C$294 million, buoyed in part by the first year of oil shipments on the Gulf Coast extension, which is the southern leg of the Keystone XL project.
TransCanada has been awaiting a U.S. presidential permit for the 1,179-mile (1,897 km) northern leg of Keystone XL for more than six years. It got final passage from the Republican-led U.S. Congress earlier this week on a bill to approve the pipeline. The bill next goes to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to veto it.
Net income attributable to shareholders was C$458 million, or 65 Canadian cents, compared with C$420 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Adjusted to remove one-time items, TransCanada earned 72 Canadian cents per share, above the average analyst estimate of 61 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company said revenue rose 12 percent to C$2.62 billion. ($1 = 1.2445 Canadian dollars) (Additional reporting by Scott Haggett in Calgary and Sneha Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Meredith Mazzilli and Bernard Orr)