October 3, 2012 / 3:43 PM / 6 years ago

Enbridge CEO floats new light oil pipeline plans

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc’s (ENB.TO) new chief executive kicked off his tenure as head of the main transporter of Canadian oil exports on Wednesday with new ideas to get growing volumes of light crude to Eastern markets and prospects for richer earnings.

Al Monaco, who took over as CEO on Monday, said the boom in light oil production from sources like the North Dakota Bakken has drastically shifted North America’s supply outlook, forcing deep price discounts for supplies not linked to international Brent crude pricing and prompting the need for new pipeline routes.

“North America is in the process of being re-piped, both in terms of additional capacity required and the flow direction of crude and natural gas,” Monaco told investors and analysts at a company-sponsored symposium. “Enbridge is right in the middle of that transformation.”

The company now has up to C$35 billion ($35.4 billion) of secured and potential projects on the drawing board, and C$27 billion of that is for crude oil and liquids transportation.

Enbridge has already announced a host of new pipelines to boost access for Canadian crude to new markets, including the contentious C$6 billion Northern Gateway line to the Pacific Coast from Alberta, now the subject of public hearings.

It also plans a C$3.2 billion series of expansions across its system to move Canadian and North Dakota oil to Eastern refineries.

That would include a reversal of Enbridge’s Line 9 between Sarnia, Ontario, and Montreal to reduce the need for pricey imported oil at Quebec and Atlantic Canada refineries.

Executives said they are talking with shippers about future market access.

One C$2.5 billion initiative would include expanding Line 9 beyond its current 240,000 barrel a day capacity, adding rail access to U.S. East Coast refineries from Chicago and increasing the ability to move oil to the Eastern U.S. Gulf Coast, said Steve Wuori, head of the company’s liquids pipeline division.

Wuori outlined a new C$5.5 billion “Light Oil Market Access” initiative, which would include a new pipeline, called Sandpiper, to Superior, Wisconsin, from the Bakken region. It would also expand the company’s mainline, using such pipelines as Line 62 in Illinois, Line 6B East of Chicago to southern Ontario and Line 9.

There is currently no timeline for these plans.

Monaco said any proposals to boost pipeline capacity will face opposition from environmental and other groups, as is the case with Northern Gateway. Criticism of Enbridge’s operations has increased since the 2010 rupture of Line 6B in Marshall, Michigan, which sent 20,500 barrels of crude into the Kalamazoo River system in the costliest onshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Monaco said Enbridge, which also has gas-pipeline and distribution businesses, could exceed its goal of 10 percent growth in earnings per share over the next four years if it moves ahead with C$18 billion of secured projects and another C$12 billion that have a high likelihood of winning commercial backing. Another C$5 billion are seen as potential projects.

If projects in the first two categories went ahead, compounded annual growth rate in earnings per share could exceed 12 percent, Monaco said.

Enbridge shares were up 14 Canadian cents at C$39.11 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They are up 2.7 percent since the start of 2012, compared with a 3.6 percent increase in the S&P/TSX composite index.

($1=$0.98 Canadian)

Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Janet Guttsman

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