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Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. on Tuesday forecast higher core earnings in 2021 and raised its annual dividend, saying it expects to see volume on its Liquids Mainline System improve next year.

A coronavirus-led plunge in demand for crude and related products had forced companies to shut-in production this year. However, with fuel demand having rebounded and prices hovering at about $50 a barrel, producers have started restoring their shut-in drilling.

Enbridge said it also expects rates for gas transportation to rise and a growing customer base for gas distribution and storage.

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The company forecast 2021 EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) to be in the range of $13.9-billion (US$10.86-billion) to $14.3-billion, higher than 2020 forecast of about $13.7-billion.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company also forecast 2021 distributable cash flow per share to be between $4.70 and $5.00 compared with its 2020 forecast of $4.50 to $4.80.

Enbridge raised its dividend by 3% to $0.835/quarter or $3.34 annually, effective March 1, 2021.

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