Enbridge looks overseas as Gateway faces protest

Wed May 11, 2011 2:57pm EDT
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By Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc, which is facing opposition from native groups to its planned oil pipeline across the Rockies, said on Wednesday it is eyeing a return to international acquisitions.

Enbridge, after reporting a 15 percent jump in first-quarter profit, said it seeks overseas assets after selling its last foreign holding, a Spanish pipeline company, three years ago to fund North American expansion.

"We're looking in South America," Chief Executive Pat Daniel said. "There are some good opportunities as a result of new developments in Colombia. ... We've also been looking at the market from the perspective of energy moving into China, India, and other developing countries."

The company, whose shares dropped 1.2 percent on Wednesday, is also looking at natural gas pipelines to gas liquefaction facilities, including projects in Australia designed to serve the expanding Asian market.

Enbridge is pushing forward to get regulatory approval for its C$5.5 billion ($5.7 billion) Northern Gateway project, which would take oil from the Alberta tar sands to a tanker port on British Columbia's coast, where Canadian oil could be shipped to Asian markets for the first time.

Facing significant opposition from aboriginal communities along the planned route, Daniel said he expects a regulatory decision on the pipeline in early 2013. The company has offered native groups a 10 percent stake in the line and 1 percent of pretax earnings if they agree to the project.

The Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of native groups whose lands make up a quarter of the planned route, said there are no conditions under which they will allow it, especially following recent pipeline ruptures in Michigan, North Dakota and Alberta that have raised questions about safety.

"Our opposition is not a bargaining position. Enbridge promises and their money are no good to us," Jackie Thomas, chief of the Saik'uz First Nation, told reporters following a meeting with the company's executives and board of directors.   Continued...

<p>First nations natives from British Columbia protest in front of the headquarters of Enbridge before the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 11, 2011. The natives are protesting an oil pipeline that will go through their land. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>