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TransCanada Status Report to Securities & Exchange Commission

December 10, 2011

TransCanada’s third quarter 2011 report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission provides some insight into how corporate headquarters is taking the latest twists and turns of the U.S. review of Keystone XL.  TransCanada recently held two binding open seasons for contracts to ship on the Houston Lateral and Cushing MarketLink portions of the project, starting in 2013 and 2014:

The first offered capacity to attract long-term firm service contracts for crude oil transportation from Hardisty, Alberta to Houston, Texas (Houston Lateral). The approximate US$600 million Houston Lateral project would involve the expansion of capacity through the addition of pump stations and the construction of an approximate 80 km (50 mile) pipeline extension from the proposed Keystone XL System.  The proposed project would double the U.S. Gulf Coast refining market capacity accessible from the Keystone Pipeline System.  TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. is currently analyzing the results of the open season.  Pending sufficient shipper commitments and regulatory approvals, the Houston Lateral is expected to be operational in 2014.
The second binding open season offered capacity to attract additional long-term firm service contracts for crude oil transportation from Cushing Oklahoma to Port Arthur or Houston, Texas (Cushing Marketlink). The approximate US$50 million Cushing Marketlink project uses a portion of the facilities that form part of Keystone XL including the Houston Lateral. TCPL is currently analyzing the results of the open season.  Pending regulatory approvals, Cushing Marketlink is expected to begin shipping crude oil to Port Arthur in 2013 and to Houston in 2014.
These reports were filed before the November 10 news that the State Department’s decision on Keystone XL would be delayed until 2013.  No portion of Keystone XL can be constructed until the environmental review is complete and the presidential permit has been issued, so these anticipated in-service dates now look unreasonably early.
The SEC report indicates that TransCanada has so far spent $1.9 billion of the anticipated $7 billion cost of the project, without ever breaking ground.  The Vancouver Sun reported in mid-November on Keystone XL shipper contracts filed with the Canadian National Energy Board that require TransCanada to show by the end of 2011 that it has US approvals in place to “launch the pipeline no later than December 31, 2013.”  Analysts can only speculate as to whether shippers will be willing to hold out for Keystone XL capacity – now looking more distant than ever – while alternatives gain momentum (such as Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain expansion to the West Coast of Canada, and Enbridge’s Wrangler and controversial Northern Gateway proposals).
Time alone may strangle Keystone XL, as the operational date drifts farther into the future.
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