Canadian Oil Pipelines Are Coming Back Online After Wildfire

Officers look on as smoke from Fort McMurray's raging wildfires billow into the air after their city was evacuated
Officers look on as smoke from Fort McMurray's raging wildfires billow into the air after their city was evacuated, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Topher Seguin - RTX2CVXQ
Topher Seguin — Reuters

Enbridge Inc said on Thursday it was steadily resuming service on its pipeline network through Canada’s energy heartland about a week after a massive wildfire spread through the Fort McMurray, Alberta, area, forcing a shutdown.

Canada’s largest pipeline company also reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, as crude shipments increased.

The Calgary-based company said the shutdown, which included all pipelines in and out of its Cheecham terminal some 50 km (31 miles) south of the fire-ravaged city, affected some 900,000 barrels per day of volume on its system.

Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco said operations had resumed at Cheecham and that the Woodland pipeline was ready to restart. The company was waiting to get access to conduct a fly-over inspection as fire crews were still working in the area.

He added that the roughly 100-km (62.14 mile) portion of the Athabasca line from Cheecham to the Kirby Lake terminal was expected to resume operations over the weekend. Line 18, which travels south from Cheecham to Edmonton, resumed on Wednesday.

“So (we’re making) good progress on getting our systems back in operations, but the process isn’t like turning on a tap,” Monaco said on a conference call. “You’ve got to expect some period of ramp-up to full capacity.”

Enbridge shares were up 1.74 percent at C$51.60 in Toronto.

Monaco also said Enbridge is focused on securing support for its Northern Gateway project as currently designed, though he did not entirely discount changing the terminus location.

The proposed pipeline, from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, is opposed by many coastal aboriginal groups.

On renewable energy, an investment decision on the first of three newly acquired offshore wind projects in France is expected in early 2017, Monaco said.

If all three go ahead, Enbridge expects to invest some C$4.5 billion ($3.5 billion) through 2022 for its 50 percent share. Électricité de France S.A. owns the other 50 percent.

Enbridge delivered about 2.5 million barrels per day of crude through its Canadian mainline system during the quarter, up from 2.2 million a year earlier.

For the first quarter, net earnings attributable to shareholders were C$1.21 billion, or C$1.38 per share, compared with a loss of C$383 million, or 46 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 76 Canadian cents per share, beating analysts’ estimate of 64 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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