(Adds details on Line 9, CEO comments from conference call, updates shares)
By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER, July 31 (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc, Canada’s largest pipeline company, said additional testing on its Sarnia, Ontario, to Montreal project should wrap up by the end of the year, allowing the company to finally start up the delayed Line 9 oil pipeline.
Canada’s energy regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), in June imposed new conditions on the 300,000 barrel-per-day project including hydrostatic tests at three locations, before it will allow the newly reversed line to enter service.
Chief executive Al Monaco said the regulator had approved its testing plan and that field work would proceed, with the results to be submitted to the NEB for final approval.
“Our best estimate is that we can complete the tests by the end of this year,” Monaco said on a conference call. “Once we do those tests and the results are reviewed by the NEB, we’ll be in a position to bring the line into service.”
He added that the Calgary-based company will likely have “full clarity” on when the line can be filled by the fourth quarter.
The reversal of Line 9 is part of Enbridge’s massive C$44 billion growth program, as the company looks to expand its network of oil pipelines through 2018.
The company is also eyeing takeover opportunities to build up its natural gas and power generation segments, and boost the diversity of its asset base, Monaco said.
“We’ve got such a tremendous liquids pipeline franchise,” he said. “With that though we do feel very strongly about the fundamentals of both natural gas and power generation, renewables being one part of that. I think it’s our desire to expand the diversity of the asset base that we have.”
“We’re scouring every opportunity out there and we will continue to do that,” he added.
Enbridge said on Friday it had completed projects worth about C$3 billion so far this year and expects to complete projects worth another C$5 billion by the end of 2015.
The Calgary-based company’s adjusted earnings rose 54 percent to C$505 million ($387 million), or 60 Canadian cents per share in the quarter.
That was much higher than analysts’ average estimate of 47 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
However, net income attributable to shareholders dropped nearly 24 percent to C$577 million, hurt by a C$440 million goodwill impairment charge.
Enbridge shares were up 1.44 percent at C$57.10 Friday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1 = C$1.3036) (Additional reporting by Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza and Andrew Hay)