TC Energy wants to help bring nuclear power to the oil sands

CALGARY – The head of Canadian pipeline giant TC Energy Corp. says the company sees a future opportunity to get involved in providing small-scale nuclear power for Alberta’s oil sands.

Chief Executive Francois Poirier told analysts on a conference call on Friday that TC Energy believes the oil sands is “an excellent use case” for small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs.

He pointed out that the company already owns a 48.4% stake in Ontario nuclear generation company Bruce Power, which would make TC Energy’s entry into the SMR space a logical step.

“We have the technical expertise to develop and evaluate these technologies, but I think it’s just as important that we have commercial relationships with oil sands producers. We have all the surrounding and supporting infrastructure in place to meet their steam and power needs,” Poirier said Friday.

TC Energy has repeatedly stated that it believes “all forms of energy” will be needed in the coming decades to meet growing global energy demand and concerns about energy security.

The company also strives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this week it announced plans to evaluate a hydrogen production center in Crossfield, Alberta, and last week it announced a collaboration with GreenGasUSA to develop a renewable natural gas network or centers ( GNR) in the United States.

TC Energy is also actively pursuing potential contracts and investment opportunities in wind, solar and energy storage projects to meet the electricity needs of the U.S. portion of the Keystone Pipeline System and to supply renewable energy to North American industrial, oil and gas sectors.

Poirier suggested on Friday that nuclear could be the next step in that process for the company, although it won’t happen this decade.

“The technology must be proven. And in our view, oil sands producers should purchase common technology in order to have the expertise required to operate and maintain a fleet for these purposes. This is all going to take time,” he said. “So we see this more as an opportunity for the 2030s than for the second half of the 2020s.”

According to the federal government, which invests in small, modular nuclear research in the belief that it has the potential to help Canada meet its climate goals, the technology has the potential to replace conventional coal-fired and combustible electricity generation. fossils and to replace the use of fossil fuels. fuels in heavy industrial applications.

The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative, an alliance of Canada’s largest oil sands companies, has also proposed accelerating the application of small-scale nuclear reactors as part of its plan to achieve net zero emissions. zero carbon from oil sands production by 2050.

Poirier’s comments on nuclear power came on the same day TC Energy said it earned $358 million in the first quarter, compared to a loss of $1.06 billion in the same quarter last year when it reported. picked up a charge related to the cancellation of its controversial Keystone XL project.

The company said earnings were 36 cents per share for the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss of $1.11 per share in the first three months of 2021.

Revenue for the three-month period totaled $3.5 billion, up from $3.38 billion a year earlier.

TC Energy said comparable earnings for the quarter were $1.12 per share, down from comparable earnings of $1.16 per share a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.11 per share for the quarter, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

In its outlook, TC Energy said it expects capital spending this year to be around $7 billion, up from an earlier forecast of around $6.5 billion. , primarily due to higher costs for the NGTL system.

TC Energy’s stock price closed down $3.72, or 5.19%, to settle at $67.95 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 29, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX: TRP)

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