Will Enbridge Play a Role in Canada's High-Energy Future?

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Enbridge (NYSE: ENB  ) is a company that could very well play a role in launching Canada to the top of the oil exporting world in the coming years. More immediately, however, the pipeline company's earnings results were mixed, and one of its most crucial development projects is in jeopardy.

Earnings roundup
Enbridge is another company that dropped after releasing earnings because it missed on one aspect of analyst expectations. Despite higher earnings and revenue up more than $1 billion this year compared with last, the company's adjusted earnings fell $0.02 short of expectations, and the stock dropped 4%.

Enbridge blamed the miss on warm weather's impact on gas distribution, and then increased its dividend 15%. The company also assured shareholders it could achieve an annual growth rate of 10% for adjusted earnings per share through 2015.

That growth rate may be harder to achieve if the company can't get its $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline project off the ground despite financial backing from oil sands players like Nexen (NYSE: NXY  ) and transport commitments from giants like Total (NYSE: TOT  ) . The pipeline would help the Alberta oil sands companies monetize their production by opening up an additional pathway to the shipping lanes and Pan-Asian demand.

Northern Gateway
It is pretty clear why Enbridge is desperately trying to build a pipeline to connect Alberta's lucrative oil sands to British Columbia for export. There is currently only one such pipeline that does that: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners' (NYSE: KMP  ) Trans Mountain. Unfortunately for Enbridge, there is a lot of local opposition to the Northern Gateway project, though the company has lined up commercial support from Canadian energy companies.

Another potential monkey wrench may come from that Kinder Morgan pipeline: The company announced yesterday that it, too, has commercial commitments and plans to widen the Trans Mountain's capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 600,000 bpd. Kinder Morgan now needs approval from local communities to go forward.

If these local communities are already against the idea of a brand-new pipeline, it could be difficult to sell that vision over the option of widening a pipeline that already exists. Potentially, pigs could fly and both proposals are accepted without serious resistance -- there is certainly enough energy in Canada to fill those pipelines -- but I wouldn't count on seeing that happen any time soon.

Foolish takeaway
There are plenty of things to like about Enbridge, missed earnings and pipeline development perils aside. As Fool analyst Jim Gillies notes, the company has a pretty significant presence in the U.S., and its related MLP, Enbridge Energy Partners (NYSE: EEP  ) , has a nice 6.5% yield. It is also slowly branching out to renewables, securing a 50% interest in a 300 MW wind project last year, differentiating itself from many of its midstream peers. I plan to add Enbridge to My Watchlist to keep track of its project this year, and encourage Fools to do the same.

Fool contributor Aimee Duffy doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. If you have the energy, check out what she's keeping an eye on by following her on Twitter, where she goes by @TMFDuffy.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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