(Recasts with new lead, CEO comments on offshore wind investment)
By Mike De Souza
CALGARY, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc, Canada’s largest pipeline company, said on Thursday it was moving into offshore wind development as part of a broader shift in the coming decades away from carbon-intensive energy.
Enbridge President and Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco made the comments after the company said a delay in starting up a pipeline to transport crude from Ontario to Quebec will hurt its adjusted earnings for the year.
The Calgary-based company’s stock was down about 2 percent in early morning trading.
Enbridge, which has faced opposition to pipeline projects from environmental groups seeking to block fossil fuel expansion, said the new investment of C$750 million ($570.04 million) would give it a 24.9 per cent interest in the Rampion Offshore Wind Project in the UK, under construction by a subsidiary of E.ON SE.
After investing over C$4 billion in renewable power generation projects over the past decade, Monaco said Enbridge thought it was prudent to work with an established partner for its first investment in offshore wind.
Enbridge’s earnings in the coming decades would continue to be driven by its oil and gas transportation, he added.
“We’d all agree that if you look to the future, we’re going to see a lower carbon intensity in our economy,” Monaco said. “The other part of the equation though, for us, fundamentally, is these investments, need to generate good risk-adjusted returns.”
The company said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings to fall within the lower half of the estimated range of C$2.05-C$2.35 per share.
Canadian regulators approved the additional test results of the Enbridge Line 9 crude oil pipeline in September, clearing the way for the delayed 300,000 barrel-per-day route to the east of the country.
The 639-km (400-mile) pipeline, which will replace supplies currently shipped by rail or imported from abroad, was expected to start operating in early 2015.
Enbridge’s adjusted earnings rose 15.7 percent to C$399 million or 47 Canadian cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from a year earlier.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 48 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company’s Mainline system, which moves the bulk of Canadian crude exports to the United States, shipped an average of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with 2.0 million bpd a year earlier.
$1 = 1.3157 Canadian dollars Reporting by Amrutha Gayathri in Bengaluru and Mike De Souza in Calgary; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Alan Crosby