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Canada’s Trans Mountain Corp names former TransAlta boss as CEO

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Canadian government-owned pipeline operator Trans Mountain Corp named Dawn Farrell, former top boss of electricity firm TransAlta Corp, as its chief executive officer and president on Wednesday.

Farrell will take over from interim president Rob Van Walleghem on Aug. 15, and inherits a company struggling with ballooning costs and lengthy delays as it builds the Trans Mountain expansion (TMX) project.

TMX will nearly triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that carries 300,000 barrels per day of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to Canada’s Pacific Coast, but has faced opposition from environmental groups and some First Nations.

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Earlier this year, Trans Mountain Corp said the cost of the expansion had soared to C$21.4 billion ($16.76 billion) from C$12.6 billion, and its in-service date would be pushed back by nine months to late 2023.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government bought the pipeline in 2018 to ensure the expansion went ahead, and intends to sell Trans Mountain once the work is complete.

However in June Canada’s parliamentary budget officer said the pipeline is no longer profitable due to cost over-runs.

“The Trans Mountain Expansion Project has been in planning and construction for the past 12 years and, as it passes the 60% completion mark, I look forward to leading the organization to this project’s end while steering the next phase of the company’s future,” Farrell said in a statement.

Farrell led Calgary-based TransAlta for nine years, during which the company transitioned away from coal-fired electricity generation, before retiring in 2021.

Since then she has served on the board of director for Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Canada’s largest oil and gas producer. ($1 = 1.2772 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Josie Kao)

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