(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc, Canada’s largest pipeline company, reported a stronger-than-expected third-quarter profit on Wednesday as it shipped record volumes on its Mainline pipeline system.
The company said it was on track to achieve its full-year earnings forecast, although ongoing delays in restarting its newly reversed Line 9 pipeline dampened some of the positive impact of the increase in volumes.
Enbridge said last month that work on Line 9, which will carry 300,000 barrels per day of crude from Sarnia, Ontario, to Montreal would be delayed after Canada’s National Energy Board requested data on valve placement.
During the company’s earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco said Enbridge is still unable to estimate when Line 9 will be in service. Enbridge said it submitted a comprehensive report to regulators two weeks ago.
“It’s clear from our second look that we should have done a much better job of explaining our approach to the placement of valves along the route. And the NEB, I think, was right to question us on it,” Monaco said.
“As far as we can begin operating the line...we won’t be able to determine that until the NEB concludes its work.”
Enbridge said linefill on its new Flanagan South pipeline between Illinois and Cushing, Oklahoma, is currently taking place with first barrels of Canadian heavy crude on track to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast via Flanagan and the Seaway pipeline by early December.
However, in its management discussion and analysis, Enbridge said the new 300,000 bpd Southern Access pipeline between Flanagan and Patoka, Illinois, is expected to be in service in late 2015, later than had been anticipated.
Monaco said that judging from his conversations with customers about declining crude prices, most were expecting oil to trade around $80 to $85 a barrel over the next few years and to stabilize at a higher level after that.
“Nobody is jumping off a cliff just yet but obviously they are very concerned about prices and how they manage it over the next two to three years,” he said.
Enbridge’s adjusted profit rose 24 percent to C$345 million, or 41 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Analysts, on average, had expected 38 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company posted a loss attributable to common shareholders of C$80 million, or 10 Canadian cents a share, mainly due to losses on hedging contracts.
It had posted a profit of C$421 million, or 51 Canadian cents, a year earlier.
Revenue fell nearly 8 percent to C$8.3 billion but came in above analysts’ average estimate of C$7.69 billion.
Enbridge shares were last up 2 Canadian cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$52.24.
Additional reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Peter Galloway