Enbridge Inc. is a publicly traded energy infrastructure firm. The company operates the world’s longest crude oil and liquids pipeline system,20 delivering approximately 2.9 million barrels of crude oil each day through its Mainline and Express pipelines—over half of all US-bound Canadian production.21 Enbridge is also Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company, with natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines across North America and the Gulf of Mexico.22 It has a growing interest in natural gas storage and midstream operations and is increasing its operations in power transmission.
Enbridge makes our list of the Top 50 as a major emitter. Enbridge is profiting greatly from business as usual and aims to expand oil and gas pipeline development across North America.
Head office: Calgary, Alberta
Countries of operation: Canada, US and Mexico
Revenue: C$44.4 billion 23
Assets: C$162.1 billion 24
Transport capacity: 27,415 km of oil pipeline and 310,000 km of natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines 25
Employees: 13,600 26
Memberships: Canadian Gas Association, Ontario Energy Association, American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business,27 The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, International Emissions Trading Association 28
Enbridge’s corporate history dates back to 1949, when the Interprovincial Pipe Line Company was incorporated, with plans to build pipelines running between Alberta and Regina, and later from Alberta to the US Midwest.1 In 1998, IPL changed its name to Enbridge, after having acquired Canada’s largest natural gas distribution system two years prior.2 In 2017, Enbridge purchased Spectra Energy Corp., creating the largest energy infrastructure company in North America.3
Enbridge has numerous subsidiaries and large ownership stakes, including a 100 per cent interest in Enbridge Income Fund and a 32.6 per cent overall ownership in Enbridge Energy Partners LP.4 The company is 50 per cent owner of Alliance Pipeline, which transports natural gas from northeastern British Columbia (BC) and northwestern Alberta, running underground through Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa to the Chicago natural gas market hub. As of 2016, Enbridge began the process of acquiring Spectra Energy, which operates natural gas pipelines throughout North America, including a system in BC that stretches from Fort Nelson to the Canada–US border and accounts for 55 per cent of gas produced in the province.5
Several prominent financial institutions and companies own large shares in Enbridge. The table below shows the 12 largest shareholders, as of October 2018.
|Capital Group Co. Inc.||US||12.58|
|Royal Bank of Canada||CA||5.79|
|Bank of Nova Scotia||CA||3.16|
|Province of Quebec||CA||2.85|
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce||CA||2.33|
|Bank of Montreal||CA||2.10|
|Power Corporation of Canada||CA||2.03|
|Deutsche Bank AG||DE||1.59|
Includes all shareholdings of 1% and greater. Source: Orbis Database, October 2018.
In addition to these ownership stakes, Enbridge also receives over $12 billion of financing.6 via a number of term loans and revolving credit facilities for general corporate finance. These loans include $4.39 billion in revolving credit from Toronto-Dominion Bank, $2.22 billion revolving credit from Bank of Nova Scotia and $1.11 billion revolving credit from Bank of Montreal.
Beyond its extensive existing network, Enbridge is seeking to expand its oil and gas pipeline system. The company’s current projects include the USD$6.9 billion Line 3 replacement and expansion, the largest project in Enbridge’s history and a project similar in magnitude to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project.7 Line 3 currently carries crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin, where it is fed into a network that carries oil to refineries in the US Midwest and, increasingly, to the Gulf Coast.8 While framed by the company as a replacement and upgrading project, Line 3 would see a dramatic increase in overall export capacity:9 the new larger pipeline would carry 760,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day 10 and would have the capacity to do so for 50–60 years. Environment and Climate Change Canada projects that the upstream GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions in Canada due to the production and processing of crude oil transported by Line 3 project could be between 19 and 26 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.11 Enbridge also suggests that the expansion of Line 3 warrants the creation of another pipeline, Line 66 (also referred to as the “Line 61 Twin”), which would transport oil from Superior across Wisconsin.12
Meanwhile, Enbridge is among the largest oil companies leading the charge to reshape the oil industry’s “green” image: it was voted 12th among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations by Corporate Knights magazine.13 Enbridge suggests that it is helping to facilitate a “lower carbon energy future” through its diversified energy mix: its natural gas business, it says, will help act as a bridge fuel to help lessen dependency on oil, while its renewable energy investments help lessen the ethical impacts of its overall operations.14 But the substantive impacts of these ethical counterweights might not live up to their promise: research indicates that the climate impacts of natural gas may be similar or equal to that of oil,15 and while the company has invested over $3 billion in renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal energy since 2010, this makes up only a small fraction of the company’s overall investment portfolio. Moreover, Enbridge recently moved to sell a 49 per cent stake in most of its wind and solar projects to the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, suggesting that its move to divest from renewables was indicative of the company’s strategic shift toward becoming a “pure regulated pipeline and utility” company, according to the company’s CEO, Al Monaco.16
Enbridge headed up the Northern Gateway pipeline, a project that would have piped diluted bitumen and condensate between the oil sands region in Alberta and Kitimat in northern BC. If constructed, Northern Gateway would have expanded the Kitimat Marine Terminal to include two ship berths and 19 storage tanks for diluted bitumen, while also increasing tanker traffic on the coast—bringing up to 220 oil tankers per year that would navigate the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest. The project received widespread opposition from First Nations whose territories would be impacted, and in 2015 eight First Nations, four environmental groups and one labour union launched a joint case claiming that the federal environmental assessment had failed to consider the threats to wildlife, oceans and Indigenous rights which the project posed.17 In 2016, the federal government rejected the Northern Gateway application.18
Line 3 expansion faces active on-the-ground resistance. An Indigenous-led prayer camp near the Canada–US border south of Winnipeg is protesting construction already under way in Canada, and direct action protests have been held at the Wisconsin–Minnesota state line to protest the Minnesota regulator’s decision in July 2018 to approve a certificate of need for the project.19
Learn more about Enbridge at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Dan Healing, “Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Approval Expected to Ease Canadian Oil Price Woes,” Financial Post, June 29, 2018, https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/enbridge-shares-jump-after-minnesota-regulators-approve-line-3-pipeline-route.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, “Enbridge Pipelines Inc. – Line 3 Replacement Program: Review of Related Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates, Draft for Public Comments,” (April 25, 2016)., https://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80091/114134E.pdf.