The head of Enbridge Inc. continues to have reservations about the federal government’s Bill C-69, but says the legislation won’t affect his company’s day-to-day interactions with the Canadian Energy Regulator.
President and chief executive Al Monaco made the comments about the bill at an investor day in New York Tuesday morning.
Bill C-69, which was passed in June, overhauled environmental evaluations for energy projects. Both friends and foes of the oil and gas industry say it will likely stop the construction of new oil pipelines, which has rankled Alberta’s United Conservative government and oil industry as they push for expanded market access for the province’s crude.
The legislation will only come into play with major projects, Mr. Monaco said, and very few proposals will fit into that category.
Still, he said, transparency from the government is key as approvals for energy projects progress from the CER to the federal cabinet for their final green light.
Mr. Monaco made the comments as Enbridge increased its quarterly dividend by 9.8 per cent a share, effective March 1. The bump assumes no movement on cash flows from the much-delayed U.S. portion of the Line 3 pipeline replacement, and Mr. Monaco wouldn’t speculate on when the project could be operational.
The Line 3 expansion would double the capacity of the existing pipeline, which was built in the 1960s and is increasingly subject to cracking and corrosion. Environmental and Indigenous groups have been fighting the project.
The investor briefing came on the heels of an updated Line 3 environmental review released by a Minnesota state agency on Monday.
In that review, the state Department of Commerce found no serious threat to Lake Superior if crude oil leaks from the pipeline that carries Canadian crude from Alberta across North Dakota and Minnesota on the way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wis.
State regulators ordered the update after the Minnesota Court of Appeals in June declared that an earlier review, issued in February, 2018, was inadequate because it failed to specifically address the potential effects of a spill into the Lake Superior watershed.
The next steps in the Line 3 approval process will see the Minnesota Public Utilities Board allow comment on three topics – adequacy of the final environmental impact statement, the certificate of need and the routing permit – at a one-day oral hearing on Dec. 19, with the comment period closing in mid-January.
Mr. Monaco said Enbridge continues to anticipate a strong financial return on Line 3 despite the cost of increased community and regulatory engagement on large-scale projects.
Enbridge expects distributable cash flow for each share for 2020 to be in the range of $4.50 to $4.80. Projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are around $13.7-billion.
With files from The Canadian Press