(Updates with executive comments from conference call on pipeline problems)
By Shanti S Nair and Rod Nickel
July 29 (Reuters) - Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc on Wednesday posted a quarterly profit slightly higher than analysts’ estimates and said it sees volumes growing across the Mainline, North America’s biggest oil pipeline network.
Enbridge’s profit was 5% lower than last year as it transported reduced oil volumes after a plunge in demand for gasoline and jet fuel, caused by pandemic-related lockdowns.
In May, Enbridge deferred C$1 billion ($748 million) in capital spending as plummeting oil prices hammered the energy industry in Canada, the world’s fourth-largest crude producer.
Mainline throughput was 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) lower in the second quarter sequentially.
The company expects Mainline volumes to be under-utilized by 200,000 to 400,000 bpd in the third quarter and by 100,000 to 300,000 bpd in the fourth, before reaching full utilization in early 2021.
The company transported 2.44 million bpd of crude on its Mainline during the quarter, down from 2.66 million bpd last year.
Enbridge has run into problems on two U.S. pipelines, however.
One leg of Line 5, running through a Great Lakes channel, remains shut after Enbridge detected damage in June.
That leg should operate again within weeks, once a federal regulator determines it is fit for service, said Executive Vice President of Liquids Vern Yu.
The Dakota Access oil pipeline, in which Enbridge is an investor, faces a possible shutdown, but the company has alternatives to move crude from North Dakota’s Bakken play, Yu said.
On an adjusted per share basis, the company earned 56 Canadian cents, while analysts on average had expected 55 Canadian cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Net income fell to C$1.65 billion, or 82 Canadian cents per share, in the second quarter, from C$1.74 billion, or 86 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
$1 = 1.3362 Canadian dollars Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Steved Orlofsky