Canadian Pipeline Operator TC Energy Forecasts Higher 2024 Earnings Despite Competition

Nov 28 (Reuters) - Canadian oil and gas pipeline company TC Energy said on Tuesday it expects adjusted core earnings for 2024 to be 5% to 7% higher than in 2023, in a year when a competitor completes a major oil pipeline expansion.

While global natural gas prices have slumped compared to last year, prices are still high enough for companies to produce profitably, boosting pipeline demand.

TC's Keystone oil pipeline, which moves crude from Alberta to U.S. Midwest refineries and the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub, faces stiffer competition starting in the first quarter when the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline is scheduled to complete an expansion.

TC has contracts with shippers for 94% of Keystone's capacity, but the remaining 6% capacity for spot shipments faces "headwinds" as Trans Mountain expands, said Bevin Wirzba, intended CEO of South Bow, the name of TC's planned oil business spin-off.

South Bow is in no hurry to renegotiate contracts with an average eight years remaining on shipper contracts, Wirzba said.

TC forecast capital expenditure of between C$8 billion and C$8.5 billion ($6.26 billion) next year, lower than its estimated spending of C$12 billion to C$12.5 billion in 2023.

The company said it expects comparable core profit in 2023 to be 8% higher than last year's C$9.9 billion.

The company, best known for its Keystone oil pipeline, is undergoing an overhaul. In July, it said it would spin off its liquids business in the second half next year to focus on transporting natural gas.

Calgary, Alberta-based TC said in November it was open to joint ventures in Mexico and Canada as part of the pipeline operator's C$3 billion ($2.17 billion) divestiture plans for next year, looking to limit annual net capital expenditures to between C$6 billion and C$7 billion post-2024.

TC shares rose 1.5% in Toronto. The stock is down 6% year to date.

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