The nearly 1,900 km pipeline was slated to transport nearly a million barrels of oil a day from the Canadian oil sands in Alberta through North Dakota and eventually into other pipelines that would continue south to the refineries along the Gulf Coast.
TransCanada submitted the proposal nearly eight years ago, but it was only rejected this past November. As of earlier this month, the company provided noticed that it would be filing a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement, citing that the rejection is both “arbitrary and unjustified.”
As part of the claim, TransCanada noted that it would be seeking over $15 billion between costs and damages relating to the rejection. The company had already met all criteria set by the administration, so the rejection of the project that is loved and loathed on both sides of the border could be seen as being more political than policy related.
The company even went further by filing a federal lawsuit in Texas, claiming that the rejection of the project by President Obama was unconstitutional, as the president does not have the authority to block a construction project.
What does this mean for investors?
For starters, the company is going to book write down charges in the fourth quarter. TransCanada was already invested in the project by approximately $4.3 billion, so the write down could be a significant portion (but not all) of that initial investment.
Any decision or extended court case on the Keystone XL is likely to press on for several years. For TransCanada and deals like Keystone XL, the court case seems to be more about precedent rather than damages.
The company also has a glut of other projects that are being worked on, so the impact of the rejection of Keystone XL at this juncture remains minimal. In all, TransCanada has a whopping $36 billion in other projects with a focus on small-scale projects and twinning of existing lines. Other larger projects still exist, but are awaiting the necessary regulatory and environmental approvals.
All of these other projects will ensure a healthy bottom line and dividend growth for the company for the foreseeable future. With a plan in place to increase dividend payouts by approximately 8-10% annually, the company is well on track to that goal even without the Keystone XL project.
Despite the cancellation and subsequent legal case that will ensue, TransCanada remains a great option for investors looking for a company with massive growth potential over the long term. With the current market downturn, the stock can be purchased at a discounted price of $42.40.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.
Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned.