CALGARY – Major pipeline proposals like Keystone XL and Energy East may have been getting an awful lot of ink recently, but TransCanada Corp. wants its shareholders to also pay attention to the smaller, less splashy aspects of its business.
In addition to the $35 billion in large-scale projects it has on the go, TransCanada is working on $13 billion in small- to medium-sized developments that are expected to come into service over the next three years.
None of those have been as headline-grabbing as Keystone XL, the cross-border oil pipeline U.S. President Barack Obama rejected earlier this month, or Energy East, the contentious Atlantic-bound proposal that’s winding its way through the Canadian review process.
The bite-sized, near-term projects on the docket include expansions to TransCanada’s existing natural gas networks, natural gas pipelines in Mexico, regional oil pipelines and power generation facilities.
“There’s a lot of other things going on in the company and we’ve made quiet progress on a number of those fronts,” CEO Russ Girling said Tuesday during TransCanada’s investor day, which was webcast.
“You can see that the story is much bigger than Keystone XL.”
TransCanada executives reiterated their disappointment in Obama’s Keystone XL rejection, but continued to refer to the project in the present tense during their presentations. The company is weighing its options, which could include reapplying for a cross-border permit under a new U.S. administration.
The company has sunk about US$2.4 billion into Keystone XL, about 40 per cent of which Paul Miller, the executive in charge of liquids pipelines, says can be recovered. About half of the expenditure so far has been on tangible items like pipe that could, at least in part, be put to other use.
Chief operating officer Alex Pourbaix said TransCanada has learned from its Keystone XL experience when it comes to how the upfront costs of a project are shared with its customers, especially when those undertakings face mounting social and political challenges.
“While Keystone and projects like it remain critical to serving North America’s future energy needs, we will only advance them if we can minimize the risks our shareholders experience in the event they don’t proceed,” said Pourbaix.
As an example, Pourbaix highlighted TransCanada’s approach to a pair of natural gas pipelines the company is planning so that it can connect natural gas supplies in northeastern British Columbia to proposed liquefied natural gas terminals on the coast.
“If they do not proceed, we will recover the approximately $300 million that we have spent securing regulatory permits for each project from our customers and if they do proceed, they will provide our shareholders with significant long-term upside.”
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