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Sunday, May 25, 2014

TransCanada plans to ship oil by rail to the U.S. until pipeline is approved



   Canada column for Sunday, May 25/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   TransCanada Corp. is determined to get its crude oil to the U.S. – even by rail for now – after another regulatory delay of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.
   Company president Russ Girling expressed his frustration to policy-makers in New York and Washington after learning that the ongoing Nebraska court dispute over the pipeline route has caused the presidential approval process to be delayed indefinitely.
   TransCanada will take interim measures to ship its oil “between now and when we can build a pipeline,” he said.
   His main message in the U.S. was that TransCanada will proceed with shipping oil by rail instead of by pipeline to refineries in the southern United States.
   The company already has oil-storage facilities in Hardisty, Alberta and Cushing, Okla., and is considering building new storage space in Steele City, Neb.
   It’s not a cleaner or safer option but would move the oil to XL’s already completed southern portion, Girling said.
   The initial objective is to ship up to half of the 830,000 barrels a day the pipeline is designed to carry.

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   The annual inflation rate in Canada has risen to its highest level in two years due to a big jump in energy prices.
   The rate reached 2.0 percent last month, up 0.5 percent from March, with much higher gasoline, natural gas and electricity prices.
   Two percent is considered the “optimal level” by the Bank of Canada before any consideration to raise interest rates.
   Natural gas for heating was up 26.6 percent over last year while gasoline has risen by 6.6 percent and electricity costs 4.6 percent more.

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    News in brief:
   - Prince Charles made international headlines while visiting Halifax when he compared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine to those of German dictator Adolf Hitler. He made the comment privately to a staff member at the Canadian Museum of Immigration but it has stirred the debate in England about the role of the monarchy to comment on controversial matters.
   - Canada has lost its bid to overturn Europe’s ban on imported seal products but the World Trade Organization said aspects of the embargo breach international obligations. Canada and Norway have been fighting the EU's 2010 ban on the import and sale of seal fur, meat and other products. The commercial seal hunt off Newfoundland landed 91,000 harp seals last spring, up from 69,000 the year before.

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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 91.99 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0870 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,696 points and the TSX Venture index at 984 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is higher at $1.3488 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (May 21) 23, 34, 43, 44, 47 and 49; bonus 45. (May 17) 24, 33, 35, 40, 43 and 49; bonus 16. Lotto Max: (May 16) 12, 13, 16, 30, 32, 35 and 37; bonus 7.

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   Regional briefs:
   - The Canadian Hurricane Center says the Atlantic provinces should prepare for an “average or below-average” storm season. Director Chris Fogarty said the hurricane season from June to November typically has a couple of storms that reach Canada while moving up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
   - Alberta’s former jobs minister Thomas Lukaszuk is seeking to lead the province’s Conservative party and rebuild voter trust. The politician from Edmonton-Castle Downs said trust was broken while Alison Redford was premier. She resigned during a party revolt over her spending and leadership style. Also in the leadership race are former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice and former Alberta infrastructure minister Ric McIver.
   - Less than a week after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford showed up north of the city posing for photos on the street and at a dry cleaning store, a woman driving his SUV in the area was arrested for drunk driving. Ford checked himself into an undisclosed rehab treatment center last month for help with substance-abuse problems. It was report the woman driving his Cadillac Escalade had been a patient at the center.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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