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(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) (ENB.N), Canada's largest oil pipeline company, reported on Wednesday a lower-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit as lower pipeline tolls and higher operating costs outweighed increased throughput.
The Calgary-based company, which is in the midst of a C$44 billion ($36.7 billion) growth program, also said it hopes to work with the new Alberta government on market access strategy, after the left-leaning New Democrats swept to victory in the traditionally Conservative province on Tuesday.
Newly elected Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said she would not support the building of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline to link the province's oil sands with a Pacific port in British Columbia.
Adjusted to remove most one-time items, Enbridge's profit fell to C$468 million, or 56 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31. That compares with C$492 million, or 60 Canadian cents per share, in the year-ago period.
The results lagged the 58 Canadian-cent average analyst estimate for the measure, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company reported a net loss of C$383 million, or 46 Canadian cents per share, driven by the impact of a hedging program designed to protect the company from swings in interest rates, foreign exchange and commodity prices.
The first quarter loss compared with a profit of C$390 million, or 47 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
Enbridge also said it still expects Canadian regulators to complete a review and give the final go-ahead for its Line 9B project this quarter, bringing the fully reversed and expanded Line 9 into operation.
When asked if the 300,000 barrel per day Line 9 could be further expanded to fill additional demand for crude transport in Eastern Canada, Chief Executive Al Monaco said there is some additional capacity available, though the company has no current plans to do so.
"I think for sure we have some room to expand there, but obviously, right now we're focused on ensuring that we can get the line in service," Monaco said.
The company said it moved 2.2 million bpd of crude oil on its mainline system across Canada and the United States during the quarter, up from 1.9 million bpd in the same quarter of last year.
Enbridge's stock was among the most influential decliners on the TSX, falling 2.9 percent to trade at C$60.90 around midday.
(This version of the story corrects midday share price in last paragraph to C$60.90 from C$37.22)
Reporting By Julie Gordon in Vancouver and Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Savio D'Souza and Marguerita Choy