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Enbridge's Al Monaco to retire Jan. 1, board chair Greg Ebel named next CEO

Enbridge chief executive Al Monaco prepares to address the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Enbridge Inc. says Monaco will retire effective Jan. 1, 2023, and be replaced by Greg Ebel, currently the company's board chair. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — Al Monaco, who led Enbridge Inc. through a tumultuous decade and helped to transform it into a diversified North American energy infrastructure company, will retire as chief executive of the Calgary-based company on Jan. 1, 2023.

Monaco, who has served as CEO of the pipeline giant since 2012, will be replaced by current board chair Greg Ebel, the company said Monday in a news release.

To support the transition, Monaco will remain with the company in an advisory capacity until March 1, 2023, Enbridge said.

Monaco led Enbridge through a period of unprecedented growth, which included the company's $37-billion acquisition of Spectra Energy in 2017. The deal accelerated the company's natural gas strategy and expanded its U.S. footprint.

During Monaco's tenure, Enbridge invested more than $60 billion in energy infrastructure projects, including Canada's first export pipeline system to the U.S. Gulf Coast, as well as the company's first international offshore wind project.

“If you look at Al’s legacy at Enbridge, he took a Canadian company that was focused on liquids ... and he grew it. The company is now massive in North America," said Kevin Birn, S&P Global chief analyst, Canadian oil markets, in an interview.

“Enbridge moved from more of a Canadian-focused company, to a truly North American utility.”

During his time as CEO, Monaco has been an outspoken advocate for North America's energy industry. His decade at the helm of Enbridge was a tumultuous one for the broader industry, featuring everything from boom-time growth in 2012-14 to the contentious politics and protests surrounding North American pipeline projects to the oil price crash of 2014-15.

In 2016, in a contentious decision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government quashed Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, which was to transport Alberta oil to the B.C. coast for export.

The company has also faced legal challenges and opposition from environmentalists and Indigenous groups over its cross-border Line 5 pipeline project.

But during Monaco's tenure, Enbridge won a major victory last year when it brought its 1,765-km Line 3 pipeline replacement project into service. The Line 3 project was the first major Canadian pipeline project to be completed since 2015 and was a big win for an energy sector that's been hamstrung by a lack of export capacity.

In 2022, as energy prices skyrocketed on the heels of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Monaco spoke often about the need for conventional energy from North America as well as new, clean technologies to help ease geopolitical tensions. Enbridge had more than $8 billion invested in renewable energy projects at the end of last year, including 23 wind farms in operation and under construction and 17 solar energy operations as well as two hydrogen facilities.

"It’s been an incredible up-and-down period, an amazing period of transition for the sector, and he sort of saw (Enbridge) through all of that," Birn said.

The company — whose failure to properly consult with Indigenous communities was behind the Federal Court of Appeal's 2016 decision to overturn the Northern Gateway pipeline approval — has also been investing in reconciliation. 

Last week, Enbridge signed a deal to sell a minority stake in seven pipelines in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta to a group of 23 First Nation and Métis communities for $1.12 billion, something Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called "the single largest Indigenous transaction in the natural resource sector in the history of North America.''

Monaco called the deal one of Enbridge's proudest moments.

In a news release Monday, Monaco said it has been an honour to lead Enbridge and its people over the last decade.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished together in building the leading diversified energy delivery company in North America," Monaco said.

"Together, we've ensured that Enbridge is well positioned for the energy transition, strongly advocated for our industry, and delivered on our purpose to fuel people's quality of life."

Ebel, on behalf of the board, thanked Monaco for his "invaluable and bold leadership" during his decade CEO, and throughout his 27 years with Enbridge, in the same release.

"Al's unparalleled leadership, discipline and integrity has ensured that the company is incredibly well positioned to remain a critical component of North America's energy fabric, and to grow, for decades to come," Ebel added.

Monaco also garnered thanks from Lisa Baiton, president and CEO of industry group the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

"On behalf of the upstream oil and natural gas industry, we sincerely thank Al for his collaboration, dedicated service and vision for the energy sector," she said in a statement.

"We also look forward to working with Greg Ebel as Enbridge's next President and CEO and we congratulate him on his new role.”

Ebel has been chair at Enbridge since 2017 and before that was chair and chief executive of Spectra Energy.

Enbridge said a new independent board chair will be named before Ebel takes over the top job.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ENB)

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press