/Enbridge’s chief legal officer honoured for a busy year where pipelines often made headlines

Enbridge’s chief legal officer honoured for a busy year where pipelines often made headlines

Bob Rooney is a bit puzzled when asked what stood out in his “big year” as vice-president and chief legal officer (CLO) with Enbridge.

“I don’t think there is one single thing that I could point to,” he said in an interview after recently being named the General Counsel of the Year at the Western Canada General Counsel Awards in Vancouver.

“Enbridge is very large,” he understated in a call from Houston. (Rooney had business commitments in Texas and was unable to receive the award in person). “We’ve got an enterprise value of $160 billion or $170 billion and a market cap of around $100 billion. We’re one of the four or five biggest companies in Canada, by market cap.”

That makes Enbridge, the well documented and highly scrutinized Calgary-based builder and operator of energy pipelines, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America.

“We move about 60 to 70 per cent of the crude oil in Canada, and about 25 per cent North American-wide, and move about 23 per cent or so of all the natural gas in North America,” Rooney said.

Modesty aside, 2018 was a busy year for the company, with a series of deals valued at nearly $20 billion announced within a six month period. This includes the acquisition of Enbridge Income Fund for $4.7 billion, Spectra Energy Partners for $4.3 billion, and Enbridge Energy Partners and Enbridge Energy Management LLC for $3.5 billion.

Bob Rooney, vice president and chief legal officer of Enbridge, is seen speaking at the unveiling event for Enbridge Plaza on July 4, 2019.

Brendan Miller/Postmedia News files

Enbridge also sold its U.S. midstream businesses worth $1.4 billion, its Canadian natural gas gathering and processing assets to Brookfield for $5.7 billion and sold 49 per cent of its stake in some renewable power assets.

Rooney and his legal team also reached a settlement on the Texas Eastern Rate suit, subject to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The regulatory team also made progress on the $9 billion Line 3 permitting and regulatory approvals in Canada and Minnesota. The litigation team achieved important court decisions in Minnesota and Michigan over pipeline improvement projects.

Enbridge also brought $7 billion of projects into service last year.

“Energy right now is an incredible complex and constantly changing sector of the economy,” Rooney said. “The geopolitics involved in energy are fascinating.”

Three of the six finalists for the award work for energy companies — a sector that has been tested as the push for new pipelines and energy has collided with the accelerating realities of climate change and a rising tide of environmental activism.

Enbridge was perhaps most under the microscope leading up to and in 2016 when the federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project that would have delivered crude oil from Alberta to Kitimat in Northern B.C. — a decision that pre-dated Rooney’s arrival in February, 2017.

“Enbridge occupies a very interesting place,” Rooney said, listing a busy intersection of resource development, infrastructure management, government policy and politics, indigenous rights and reconciliation, climate change and environmentalism.

“It’s a very different business model than upstream oil and gas exploration and production,” he said. “It’s a much lower-risk business model and a much steadier more sustainable business model for years to come, so long-term contracts, utility rates of return.”

Overall, he’s worked in law for more than 30 years with a primary focus on energy. His career has specifically included strategic planning and execution, capital allocation, mergers and acquisitions, governance and stakeholder relations.

Rooney, a father of six, said his family is at the centre of his universe. Rooney is also the chair of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Rooney called his wife “his hero” during a video acceptance speech played in Vancouver at the awards presentation. “She is a very accomplished person in her own right. She is an accomplished lawyer.

“As I reflect on all this, I think I am the epitome of: behind every successful man is a surprised woman,” he joked.

For Rooney, the coming year will remain busy. “We have a strategic plan to roll out to the market in early December,” he said. “(It’s) our updated strategic plan and long range strategic plan and guidance for the market next year… that will keep me fully engaged for the next few years.”

Rooney’s fellow nominees included: Roger J. Chouinard, CLO and corporate secretary for QuadReal Property Group; Anita Dusevic Oliva, vice-president legal with Inter Pipeline Ltd.; Paul M. Mendes, vice-president legal, general counsel and corporate secretary for Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.; Tanya J. Rothe, general counsel with D-Wave Systems; and Jean-Marc Ruest, senior vice-president, corporate affairs and general counsel with Richardson International Ltd.

Special to the Financial Post

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