Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. on Dec. 8 forecast higher core earnings in 2021 and raised its annual dividend, saying it expects to see volume on its Liquids Mainline System improve next year.

A coronavirus-led plunge in demand for crude and related products had forced companies to shut-in production this year. However, with fuel demand having rebounded and prices hovering at about $50/bbl, producers have started restoring their shut-in drilling.

Enbridge said it also expects rates for gas transportation to rise and a growing customer base for gas distribution and storage.

The company forecast 2021 EBITDA to be in the range of CA$13.9 billion (US$10.86 billion) to CA$14.3 billion, higher than 2020 forecast of about CA$13.7 billion.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company also forecast 2021 distributable cash flow per share to be between CA$4.70 and CA$5.00 compared with its 2020 forecast of CA$4.50 to CA$4.80.

Enbridge raised its dividend by 3% to CA$0.835/quarter or CA$3.34 annually, effective March 1, 2021.

(US$1 = 1.2797 Canadian dollars)