rises@ (Adds details on project delay, background)
CALGARY, Alberta, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd's $7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has seen a delay in construction preparation and its December 2019 operational date could be pushed back, the company said on Wednesday.
In a statement announcing a rise in third-quarter earnings, Kinder Morgan Canada said the delay was due to the time necessary to secure regulatory permits.
The company, a unit of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc , said it is working with contractors to speed up some construction to ensure the date for shipping oil on the expansion remains as previously announced.
"Absent this mitigation, project completion could be delayed by up to nine months," the company said.
The proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Canada's oil-rich Alberta province to the west coast would nearly triple its capacity to 890,000 barrels per day and significantly increase crude tanker traffic off the west coast.
The project has faced mounting opposition from environmental and aboriginal groups, who have filed for a judicial review of the federal approval
Kinder Morgan Canada reported a net income of C$42.4 million, or 11 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, up from C$20.3 million for the same period last year. It was below analysts' expectations of 13 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
($1 = 1.2455 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Ethan Lou; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)