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Thursday, February 20, 2014

TransCanada weighs next steps after U.S. court's Keystone ruling

WASHINGTON, FEB 19 (REUTERS) - A NEBRASKA COURT ON ..." 20.02.14 | 02:08 Uhr | 26 mal gelesen | So gefunden auf reuters.com WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - A Nebraska court on ... UPDATE 3-Keystone pipeline approval in limbo after Nebraska ruling WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - A Nebraska court on Wednesday voided the governor's decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass through the Midwestern state, creating another snag for the... Nebraska ruling could grant Obama breathing space on Keystone Thu, Feb 20 19:16 PM EST image By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Nebraska judge's ruling on the Keystone XL pipeline could let President Barack Obama delay his final decision on the project until after mid-term elections and avoid political damage, analysts say. The Nebraska ruling on Wednesday put the controversial project in legal limbo and likely delayed the state's decision on the pipeline until later this year. That raised the possibility Obama would wait until the Nebraska situation is resolved before making his final decision, possibly after November 4 elections that could determine whether his Democratic Party keeps control of the Senate. Approving TransCanada Corp's $5.4 billion pipeline before the elections would anger environmentalists, an important part of Obama's base. An approval could, on the other hand, help vulnerable Democrats like Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Mark Begich in Alaska, who are from energy producing states, as well as Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Once complete, Keystone could ship more than 800,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude oil that is emissions intensive to produce. It's not clear what greens would do to vent their anger. Staying home on election day could be one option. But a protest movement that has crystallized against Keystone could also turn next to other energy projects such as wells that conduct hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and natural gas. Environmentalists could also try to delay approvals of terminals to export liquefied natural gas, potentially blocking part of the climate action plan Obama introduced last year to help create a global market for U.S. gas. "Politically it raises the cost of the president's approving the permit, at least before the state issues are resolved," said Robert McNally, president of Rapidan Group, an oil consultancy, who was an energy advisor to former President George W. Bush. The Nebraska ruling "gives Obama an excuse to punt the decision past the election," said McNally, who believes Obama will eventually approve Keystone to improve U.S. energy security and maintain relations with Canada. NEBRASKA DELAYS Nebraska judge Stephanie Stacy struck down a state law on Wednesday that allowed Governor Dave Heineman to approve the Keystone pipeline's path through the state. TransCanada may now have to submit an application to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, and the agency's decision could take seven months or more. Stacy's ruling has also been appealed by the state's attorney general on behalf of Governor Dave Heineman, but it is uncertain how long the legal process will take. The White House referred questions about the Nebraska ruling to the State Department. The State Department would not comment on whether it will put a hold on its process for weighing whether Keystone is in the country's interest to await Nebraska's next move. "It just came out yesterday. We are still sort of looking at all of it," Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones in charge of environmental affairs told reporters, about the Nebraska court ruling. There is nothing in the Nebraska ruling that prevents the State Department from continuing the 90-day national interest determination that is now in its third week. Eight federal agencies including the Departments of Defense, Commerce and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency are working with the State Department to determine whether Keystone would benefit the U.S. economy and energy security. Any delay by the Obama administration would more likely come after the agencies have made their assessment, analysts said. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to make a recommendation to Obama but has no firm deadline to do so. Although in theory the administration could approve Keystone before the Nebraska situation is resolved, Obama and Kerry would probably not do so, Divya Reddy, an analyst at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy said in a note to clients. "Risks of slippage on timing are now higher and will depend heavily on the outlook for the appeals process in Nebraska," Reddy said. (Additional reporting by Patrick Rucker and Roberta Rampton; editing by Ros Krasny and Andrew Hay) ===================== TransCanada weighs next steps after U.S. court's Keystone ruling Thu, Feb 20 11:35 AM EST image By Julie Gordon TORONTO (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) said on Thursday it is considering how to proceed with its Keystone XL pipeline, a day after a court overruled the Nebraska governor's decision to allow the controversial line to pass through the Midwestern state. "We are disappointed and disagree with the decision of the Nebraska district court and will now analyze the judgment and decide what next steps may be taken," the company said in a statement. "Nebraska's attorney general has filed an appeal." Canada's No. 2 pipeline operator also reported higher fourth-quarter earnings on strong results from its gas pipelines and higher volumes on its broader Keystone oil pipeline system. Shares were down C$1.02 at C$48.88 Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange. On Wednesday, the District Court of Lancaster County voided state approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project, siding with landowners who said legislation allowing the $5.4 billion line disregarded their property rights. The move is expected to further delay the project, which has spent more than five years in regulatory limbo, though it is unclear how long the Nebraska appeal will take. Supporters say the pipeline, which would transport crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, would create thousands of jobs and cut U.S. fuel costs, while critics say it would harm the environment and hasten climate change by promoting expansion of Alberta's oil sands. U.S. President Barack Obama will have the final say on the 1,179-mile (1,898-km) line, with the project expected to come online two years after a Presidential Permit is issued. TransCanada said it has so far spent $2.2 billion on the line. With Keystone XL potentially facing another indefinite delay, focus may now shift to the company's other large development project, the $12 billion Energy East pipeline, which would pump crude from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada and a deepwater export port at Saint John, New Brunswick. TransCanada said it expects to apply for permits for Energy East by mid-2014, with first deliveries anticipated in 2018. The proposed pipeline would ship 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), about 30 percent more than Keystone XL. "With $30-odd billion in development, they really are more than just one $6 billion pipeline," Steven Paget, an analyst with FirstEnergy Capital in Calgary, said of TransCanada. While Keystone XL would transport oil to existing markets in the United States, Energy East would carry crude to the coast, opening up access to valuable new international markets for Canadian oil. TransCanada is also developing smaller oil pipelines in Canada and numerous natural gas projects. The Calgary-based company's net income in the fourth quarter was C$420 million, or 59 Canadian cents per share, compared with C$306 million, or 43 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier. Comparable earnings, which exclude one-time items, rose to C$410 million, or 58 Canadian cents per share, from C$318 million, or 45 Canadian cents per share. Analysts on average expected net income of 59 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. TransCanada also increased its quarterly dividend by 4 percent to 48 Canadian cents. (Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Paul Simao and Alden Bentley) ===========================

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