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Tanks stand at the Enbridge Energy terminal in Superior, Wisc., on June 29, 2018.

Jim Mone/The Associated Press

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 per cent 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 US$1-billion in capital spending as plummeting oil prices hammered the energy industry in Canada, the world’s fourth-largest crude producer.

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Mainline throughput was 400,000 barrels a day (b/d) lower in the second quarter sequentially.

The company expects Mainline volumes to be under-utilized by 200,000 to 400,000 b/d in the third quarter and by 100,000 to 300,000 b/d in the fourth, before reaching full utilization in early 2021.

The company transported 2.44 million b/d of crude on its Mainline during the quarter, down from 2.66 million b/d 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, Mr. Yu said.

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On an adjusted per share basis, the company earned 56 US cents, while analysts on average had expected 55 US cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income fell to US$1.65-billion, or 82 US cents a share, in the second quarter, from US$1.74-billion, or 86 US cents a share, a year earlier.

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