Enbridge Inc. , a major oil pipeline operator and natural gas distributor, says profits were pulled back in the third quarter as it booked derivatives losses.
The Calgary-based company says earnings were down to $4-million, or a penny per share, from $157-million or 21 cents per share a year earlier on the adjustments.
Adjusted earnings, which filter out the mark-to-market values, increased to $241-million from $195-million.
On a per share basis, adjusted earnings were 32 cents a share, ahead of average analyst expectations of 28 cents per share, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.
“Enbridge's performance through the third quarter of 2011 continues to reflect strong growth and we are now trending to finish the year near or slightly above the top end of our adjusted earnings per share guidance range of $1.38 to $1.48,” said president and CEO Patrick Daniel.
“Over the quarter and year-to-date we have also experienced significant cash flow growth that is strengthening our already solid financial position.
Calgary-based Enbridge plans to build twin pipelines connecting Alberta to the West Coast — one that would carry oil sands crude westward for export and one that would bring imported condensates inland for use in the oil sands.
The goal of the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project is to diversify Canada's customer base for crude exports, which currently go only to the United States. Northern Gateway would enable Asian countries to buy Canadian crude, ensuring the product gets a better price.
The project faces steep hurdles, however. Aboriginal groups and environmentalists are among the many critics to voice concern over what a spill on the pipeline, or from a tanker on the West Coast, could have on northern B.C. ecosystems.
Enbridge says the pipeline would bring jobs and economic development to northern B.C. communities. But many of those groups say it's simply not worth it to endanger their way of life.
Community hearings into the proposal are set to begin in January, and so far 4,000 people are registered to speak.
The National Energy Board panel is to make a recommendation to the federal cabinet on the pipeline by the end of 2012.
In addition to is pipeline business, Enbridge is also a major distributor of natural gas in Ontario and a growing producer of green energy.
It is also becoming a bigger player in the Canadian gas processing business, picking up a 71 per cent interest in the Cabin gas plant in northeastern B.C. this fall.