Enbridge earnings jump, braces for First Nations protest at shareholders meeting

Enbridge earnings jump, braces for massive First Nations protest

First Nations protesting in Kitimat, British Columbia. (Image from archives, August 2010)

Canada's biggest energy transport company Enbridge (TSX, NYSE:ENB) posted Wednesday a 56% jump in first-quarter earnings, driven by "solid" operating results across its businesses, amid fresh threat from First Nations to take their battle against the firm’s proposed $6.5 billion Northern Gateway to the company’s doors.

The move, announced by Canada’s Coastal First Nations yesterday, comes a few weeks before the due date for the government to decide whether to approve the pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the northern B.C. town of Kitimat.

“The time is right to have it out with Harper on Northern Gateway once and for all,” Art Sterrit, executive director of Coastal First Nations that represents tribes along the proposed tanker route was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “I won’t let this pipeline get done as long as I’m alive,” he said while announcing a planned “show down” at Enbridge shareholders meeting today.

Oil sands volumes up

The Calgary, Alberta-based firm said it earned Cdn$ 390 million in Q1 this year, or 47 Canadian cents a share, up from Cdn$250 million, or 31 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Enbridge earned 60 cents per share and said it was on track to meet its full-year adjusted profit forecast.

Average deliveries on the regional oil sands system, comprising Athabasca mainline and Waupisoo pipeline went up by 45% to 671,000 barrels per day (bpd). Deliveries on the Canadian Mainline system increased roughly 7% to 1.9 million bpd.

Enbridge earnings jump, braces for massive First Nations protestEnbridge proposed the Northern Gateway pipeline about ten years ago, aiming to get fuel extracted from Alberta’s oil sands to energy hungry markets in Asia via tankers.

The company's plan is to build twin lines across 1,177km from northern Alberta to Kitimat, BC, providing a steady stream of oil to tankers and opening Alberta's petroleum industry to new markets.

The westbound portion of the line would carry up to half a million barrels per day, and the eastbound nearly 200,000 barrels of condensate – a product used to thin oil for pipeline transport.

Opponents have tried to step the project several times, as they question not only the impacts of more bitumen being pumped from the oil sands, but also the potential consequences of a spill for their fisheries and aquatic life itself.