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Pipeline delay irks TransCanada

TransCanada Corp. is determined to get its crude oil to the United States — even by rail for now — after another regulatory delay of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.

Company president Russ Girling expressed his frustration to policymakers 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 United State 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.

Rise in energy prices boosts inflation rate

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's price, while the cost of gasoline has risen by 6.6 percent, and electricity costs 4.6 percent more.

News in brief

• Prince Charles made international headlines last week 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 debate in England about the role of the monarchy in commenting 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 in 2012.

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).

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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 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, wants to lead the province's Conservative party. The Edmonton-Castle Downs politician said the voters' trust was broken while Alison Redford was premier. She resigned during a party revolt over her spending and her 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 Mayor Rob Ford showed up north of Toronto posing for photos on the street and at a store, a woman driving his SUV was arrested in the area, accused of drunken driving. Ford checked himself into an undisclosed treatment center last month for help with substance abuse. It was reported the woman driving his Cadillac Escalade had been a patient at the center.

Jim Fox can be reached at