Enbridge pipeline project gets boost from Alberta-BC deal

Reuters

By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER, Nov 6 (Reuters) - A recent pipeline deal betweenAlberta and British Columbia is good news for Enbridge Inc's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, the company's chiefexecutive said on Wednesday.

"We have been confident for awhile in where Gateway is goingto head and that the project will move forward," Chief ExecutiveOfficer Al Monaco said during a conference call with investorsfollowing the release of the company's third-quarter results.

"We are an export-based economy, so we do need access to theAsian markets, which are clearly the growth market goingforward."

Enbridge, Canada's largest pipeline company, also reportedhigher third-quarter earnings on Wednesday as increased volumeson its crude pipelines offset higher costs.

Enbridge's shares were up 1 percent at C$46.24 in earlyafternoon trading on Wednesday in Toronto.

The 1,177 km (730 mile) Northern Gateway pipeline has facedfierce opposition from aboriginal and environmental groups, whoworry about the impact of a potential oil spill in BritishColumbia's north.

The province rejected the proposal earlier this year, citingconcerns over spill response, and set out five conditions thatnew pipelines would have to meet before being considered.

On Tuesday, Alberta agreed to support those five conditionsif British Columbia agreed to back construction of oil pipelinesto its coast, edging projects such as Northern Gateway closer toreality.

Monaco said his company has put more effort intoconsultation with affected communities and First Nations groupsover the last six months, adding that the pipeline would be aworld leader in safety and environmental protection.

Still, the $6.5 billion project faces many obstacles,including negative public sentiment and increasing costs.

Monaco confirmed on Wednesday that the cost of building thepipeline would increase, although he declined to give any newestimate until design and engineering work was completed.

Excluding one-time items, Enbridge's third quarter profitrose 4 percent to C$278 million, or 34 Canadian cents per share,from C$267 million, or 34 Canadian cents a share, a yearearlier.

Analysts on average were expecting 35 Canadian cents pershare, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Shares of theCalgary-based company were relatively flat shortly after themarket opened on Wednesday, trading down 1 Canadian cent atC$45.79 in Toronto.

Net income attributable to common shareholders, impacted byunrealized derivative gains or losses, more than doubled toC$421 million, or 51 Canadian cents per share, from C$187million, or 24 Canadian cents per share.

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