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Enbridge pipelines to resume oilsands shipments within days as fire risk falls

CALGARY – Enbridge Inc.’s chief executive said he hopes to restart shipments on its regional oilsands pipelines in the next few days as the wildfire risk in the Fort McMurray, Alta., area diminishes.

“I would say within the next two or three days, hopefully, we’ll be at a point where we’ll be in good startup mode,” CEO Al Monaco said after the company’s annual general meeting Thursday.

He said the restart would be gradual because it depends on production flows from oilsands operators and requires careful co-ordination.

“The planning process to restart all of these systems needs to be very disciplined and very methodical, and it almost needs to be choreographed correctly to bring things up in a safe manner,” Monaco said.

The biggest potential delays include not getting enough access to right-of-ways to check infrastructure along the routes and power supply issues, he said.

On Wednesday the company inspected and found no damage at its Cheecham Terminal sitting 50 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, while on Thursday the company was working to restarting one of the main conduits to Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands project.

The Calgary-based company says it reduced the pipeline system’s capacity as a precaution by about 900,000 barrels per day on May 4.

Enbridge (TSX:ENB) says it can’t accurately estimate the short-term impact of the disruption on its financial performance but it isn’t expected to have a significant effect on 2016 full-year results.

In the first quarter ended March 31, Enbridge had a $1.2-billion profit for common shareholders or $1.38 per share — including the positive impact of currency fluctuations.

Its adjusted earnings rose to $663 million or 76 cents per share.

In the 2015 first quarter, Enbridge had a $383-million loss or 46 cents per share including currency fluctuations, and $468 million or 56 cents per share of adjusted earnings.