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TransCanada Corp said on Tuesday it will decide early next year on whether to go ahead with a pipeline carrying up to one million barrels of crude oil from Alberta's oil sands to refineries in Eastern Canada and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
The company, which earlier reported a 4 percent drop in quarterly profit, also said that its power plants in the U.S. Northeast, including the 2,480 megawatt Ravenswood plant in the New York borough of Queens, were undamaged by Hurricane Sandy.

"The vast majority of our assets in New York and New England continued to operate through the storm," Alex Pourbaix, head of the company's energy division, said on a conference call.

TransCanada, the country's largest pipeline operator and the company proposing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to carry Alberta tar sands crude to gulf coast refineries, is looking to further expand the reach of its oil pipeline network.

The company is in the planning stages of a new oil pipeline that would take crude oil from the oil sands and the Bakken shale oil region of North Dakota, Montana and Southern Saskatchewan to eastern refineries that now rely on expensive imported crude as a feedstock.

The line, which the company calls the Mainline Conversion Project, will see an under-used cross-Canada natural gas pipeline converted into oil use, while new pipe will extend the line's reach.

Russ Girling, TransCanada's chief executive, said the line could carry 500,000 to one million barrels of synthetic crude from the oil sands and light sweet crude from North Dakota's Bakken field to eastern refineries, few of which are configured to process tar-like bitumen and heavier crudes that are Western Canada's primary oil product.

An end-point for the line will be determined after the company consults with potential shippers to gauge interest in the project, which could also fill tankers to take crude to refineries overseas.

"The east coast of Canada is an obvious market, the east coast of the United States is an obvious market but certainly (also) Europe and some of the Asian markets that can be accessed economically," Girling said. "Those would be dependent upon whether or not those customers ... have an interest in buying Canadian crude.

A final decision on whether to go ahead with the line will be made early next year, Girling said.

PROFIT DROP

The company said on Tuesday its net income fell to C$369 million ($369.2 million), or 52 Canadian cents per share, in the third quarter, from C$384 million, or 55 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Comparable earnings, which exclude most one-time items, fell 16 percent to C$349 million, or 50 Canadian cents per share.

Revenue fell 4 percent to C$2.13 billion.

Revenue for Canadian Mainline, a 14,101 km (8,743 mile) natural gas pipeline, fell 6 percent to C$247 million (US$ 247 million) in the quarter.

Canada's largest pipeline company said it expects to complete projects worth C$13 billion (US$ 13 billion), including Keystone XL and the Gulf Coast leg of the project, within the next three years.

TransCanada shares were down 39 Canadian cents to C$44.51 by early afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Source: Reuters


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