Natural gas pipeline partnership Northern Border Partners LP on Tuesday said strong gas prices and the gain from the sale of a Canadian pipeline stake will push its earnings forecast for 2004 about 10 cents above Wall Street estimates.

Net income for 2004 is expected to range between $141-144 million ($2.81-2.77/unit), including a $3.4 million (7 cents/unit) gain from selling a stake in its Gregg Lake/Obed Pipeline in Alberta. The Partnership sold its interest in the Alberta pipe in mid-December for $13.8 million. Other items affecting 2004 results include favorable pricing of natural gas and natural gas liquids in the Williston Basin; accounting for financing costs; and adjustments to reserves made in the normal course of business.

Wall Street analysts had pegged 2004 average earnings at $2.71/unit.

Northern Border also said it expects to earn $359-366 million in 2004 before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Earnings for 2005 were kept at a range between $126-131 million ($2.50-2.60/unit).

The partnership also announced that general partner Northern Plains Natural Gas Co. will buy back up to 10,000 common units of the partnership under an employee benefit plan. The buy back is expected to begin this month.

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