Enbridge CEO Daniel leaving the rocking ship

Shares of Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) were falling this morning after CEO Pat Daniel announced yesterday that he is leaving the company amid an increasing controversy on its West Coast pipeline project, the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway.

The Calgary-based crude shipper announced that Daniel, 65, will leave his post by the end of the year and Al Monaco, the head of the company's gas pipeline, green energy and international businesses, will assume the leadership of the company.

Today, Prince Rupert (British Columbia) became the latest city to officially oppose the pipeline project. The north coast city councillors have unanimously adopted a resolution recently approved by the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District outlining the potential devastation of an oil spill from tankers carrying Alberta crude to Asian markets.

But Daniel doesn’t seem concerned about it . He was quoted by the Canadian Press as saying he had “no qualms” about leaving the company this year, as the Northern Gateway proposal is an important project to Enbridge, but not the only one.

"Gateway of course gets a lot of press, and is very, very important for the country, and for Enbridge, and I feel very, very committed to it personally. It's been 12 years since we started the concept," said Daniel.

"But it's going to take some time to work its way through. We're very confident it will ultimately get approved. And we've got such great young talent in this company. I just don't want to stand in the way."

Since Jan. 10 and until April 2013 an unprecedented 4,000-plus people – the vast majority First Nations and environmental activists – have been and will be speaking for a collective 650 hours at public hearings on the polemical project.