Friday, February 19, 2016

Is Enbridge Preparing to Cut and Run from Athabasca?

When it comes to the Athabasca Tar Sands, dilbit and Enbridge have always seemed inseparable. The biggest pipeline company had bold plans to transport diluted bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. and, from there, onward to Asia. The initiative even had a bold name, the Northern Gateway.

That was then, this is now. The company now seems to have delivered a resounding vote of no-confidence in the Tar Sands with an announcement that it wants to rebalance its business to be less dependent on the Tar Sands after 2019.

“The reality is the FIDs (final investment decisions) on new incremental (oilsands) projects are obviously going to be tougher in this environment,” said Al Monaco, Enbridge’s president and chief executive officer.

Monaco made the comments after the Calgary-based company ended the year with stronger profits than it was expecting. Enbridge said it believes it has enough projects to carry it through the next three or four years, but noted that most of its earnings depend on its liquid pipelines.

Monaco said some large oil companies might still invest in new oilsands projects in the coming years. But Enbridge believes that many producers are turning toward more flexible and less expensive projects.

Monaco also said that he believed it would be an excellent time for investing in wind and solar projects in Alberta, particularly after the provincial government announced a new climate change plan that proposes an economy-wide tax on carbon pollution, while encouraging more renewable forms of energy.

Mr. Monaco suggested Enbridge is still pursuing First Nations' support for the Northern Gateway project even though most observers think that is dead in the water.

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