TransCanada latest to say FERC tax proposal won't matter

A federal proposal on taxes for pipeline companies could strike a blow to those set up as master limited partnerships.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  March 19, 2018 at 8:48 AM
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March 19 (UPI) -- Canadian pipeline company TransCanada became the latest in a line of energy transit corporations to say it won't be impacted by changes in U.S. tax policy.

TransCanada said Monday it was reviewing a proposal last week from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to change how pipeline companies are taxed. The agency ruled against certain tax allowances for master limited partnerships, noting that some entities "may be collecting unjust and unreasonable rates" in light of the recent reduction in the corporate income tax outlined in the federal tax overhaul.

The Canadian pipeline company said it doesn't plan to make revisions to its corporate guidance or funding plans through 2020 as a result of changes in the U.S. tax code.

"Furthermore, given that a sizeable portion of our U.S. natural gas pipelines portfolio is held in corporate form, including ANR, Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf, along with the composition of its revenue base and level of ownership in TC PipeLines, LP, changes to FERC's tax allowance policy for master limited partnerships are not expected to have a material financial impact on the company," its statement read.

Enbridge Energy Partners, which operates a dense network of pipelines in the Great Lakes region, said last week that if the policy is approved as planned, it would see a $100 million reduction in revenues and a $60 million cut in cash flow.

The company said Friday it would ask for a rehearing on the FERC proposal. Enbridge Inc. is a multinational energy transit company with headquarters in Calgary, Alberta.

New U.S. tax policies permanently cut rates for corporations from 35 percent to 21 percent, though the results for oil and gas corporations were mixed. Mid-sized energy company Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. recorded an income tax benefit of $242.9 million in the fourth-quarter of 2017 resulting from the remeasurement of deferred tax liabilities based on the new lower rate. U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil disappointed the market, however, when it reported fourth quarter earnings from exploration and production were $9 billion higher than the same period in 2016, but $7.1 billion of that was driven by the U.S. tax reform.

President Trump has put the oil and gas sector at the forefront of his energy agenda just as the United States is setting records in terms of production, but recent trade initiatives were criticized by the energy sector.

The FERC ruling could reduce the returns for pipeline companies set up as master limited partnerships and would come just as new tariffs on steel and aluminum look to make U.S. pipeline projects more expensive.

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