Enbridge Exceeds Profit Expectations Amid Strong North American Oil Demand

(Reuters) — North American pipeline operator Enbridge beat market estimates for first-quarter profit on Friday on strong demand for transporting oil.

Canadian oil producers are boosting production to fill new capacity on the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline, owned by the Canadian government. The extra output benefited pipeline operators such as Enbridge in the months leading up to Trans Mountain's expanded line opening earlier in May.

Shares of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge rose 0.9% in Toronto to C$51.62.

Adjusted core profit at the company's liquids pipelines segment rose to C$2.46 billion ($1.80 billion) from C$2.34 billion last year.

Volumes on Enbridge's Mainline - North America's biggest oil pipeline network - rose marginally from a year earlier to 3.1 million barrels per day (bpd), helped by additional Canadian oil sands production and a delay in Trans Mountain's completion to the second quarter.

The company is discussing expanding the Mainline with shippers and could boost capacity by 100,000 bpd in the next two years, Colin Gruending, Enbridge's executive vice-president of liquids said. He added that Trans Mountain's startup has had little impact on Enbridge's volumes so far.

"We've not really seen a blip on our system here through April or May," Gruending said on a conference call with analysts.

The company, which transports nearly a fifth of the natural gas consumed in the U.S., said adjusted core earnings from its gas transmission segment rose 7.1% to C$1.27 billion.

Enbridge said it had approved the $1.1-billion Tennessee Ridgeline expansion, a pipeline to deliver natural gas to a gas-fired power plant.

On an adjusted basis, Enbridge reported quarterly profit of 92 Canadian cents per share, compared with analysts' average estimate of 81 Canadian cents per share, according to LSEG data.

($1 = 1.3680 Canadian dollars)

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