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Our legal notice. This presentation will include forward-looking statements. The risks associated with forward-looking statements have been outlined on the slide and in the partnership's most recent SEC filings, and we incorporate those by reference today.And with those opening remarks, it is my pleasure to introduce Mark Maki, President. Mark Andrew Maki Good morning, everybody. My name is Mark Maki. I'm President of EEP. And I want to take just a minute before I start my prepared comments and talk briefly on the status of filing of our 10-K for the year and then go into the introductory comments. As you know, we did announce back in January that we would be -- we had an accounting matter we were looking into one of our subsidiaries, and that process is being worked through. Nothing really new to update from any of our previous disclosures. We expect to be able to file our 10-K next week. And when we do so, we will release results at that time. If there was by way of restatement required and we knew that, we would have to provide that information to you at this time, and so nothing has changed with regard to that. So I'm going to provide the strategic overview, and I do want to thank everyone for taking the time this morning to invest a part of your day with us. We as a management team very much enjoy the opportunity to come in and speak to the investors here in New York on the equity side and the debt side. We think this is a great way for us to tell our story in a lot more detail, a lot more carefully in a lot more wholesome fashion than we can any other time. So the analyst calls, of course, at the end of the quarters or we talk about our outlook for the year coming up is a relatively compressed period of time. We don't get a chance to really address things in the fashion that we'd like to, and this forum really presents us that chance.
The one thing we ask from you as an audience is please do give us some feedback at the end. Sanjay will be seeking that from you, and certainly, that helps us to tailor this in the future to make the materials more useful. I want to introduce the management team that's going to be here today to speak, and I introduced myself already, but I want to introduce Steve Wuori, John Loiacono and Steve Neyland. If you 3 could please stand up quickly. Steve heads up our Liquids Pipeline group. All these folks are folks you've seen before. John Loiacono heads up our natural gas pipeline group inside the partnership, and Steve Neyland is the CFO for the partnership. As well, in the audience today, we've got Dave Wudrick, the Treasurer for the partnership. He's at the back. And Jody Balko, Jonathan Gould from our Investor Relations function up in Calgary. And outside, you met Margaret Liu and Claudette Dionne, and they are there to help you with anything you might need today.One other special introduction I want to make today is Leon Zupan, and Leon is here. Leon will be assuming a new role within Enbridge in connection with Pat Daniel. His retirement was announced here recently. He'll be retiring in 2012 after a great run at Enbridge. And certainly, he will be missed. Replacing him, in those very, very large shoes will be Al Monaco, and with Al moving on, Leon will be stepping into Al's role as President of Gas Pipelines inside of Enbridge. And that responsibility also includes looking after Enbridge Energy Partners. So for Terry McGill and Doug Krenz and myself, Steve, we look to Leon as our leader inside of Enbridge. Leon, do you want to go up and just give a couple of quick words? We wanted to introduce Leon to the group because you'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Leon A. ZupanAnd I welcome you as well. I certainly do look forward to having a chance to spend more time with you over the next year as well. We do take our Investor Relations business very seriously. We do want to make sure that our story is clear and that we've got answers to everything that you have as questions in order for you guys to continue to invest in the partnership. I am looking forward to my new role. We've got a very strong management team in Enbridge Energy Partners. We've got a lot of great opportunities both on the liquids side and on the gas side. I've been on the liquids side for almost 25 years now in various roles within Enbridge, from operations to managing our customers, business development and for the last number of years here as the senior leader of our operations group on liquids for both Canada and the United States. Over the last 7 or 8 years, I worked very closely with the team in Houston on our liquids issues, and I look very much forward to relocating from my home in Alberta to Houston, Texas here this spring and have an opportunity to work on a day-to-day basis with our leadership team. We've got a great story this morning on both the liquids and the gas side. We've got a lot of opportunities that we are not just looking at but actively managing and pursuing. And I'm not going to take any more time and stand between you, Mark, and the story, so I'll turn it back to you, and I look forward to seeing more of you guys in the future. Thank you. Mark Andrew Maki Well, you can certainly ascertain from Leon's comments one of the reasons he's going to be a big part of the partnership in the coming years is his deep involvement in the liquids side of the business. One of the key themes we're going to come back to over and over again today is the robust amount of growth around our liquids systems that we have. Whether you're looking at the crude oil systems, the old Lakehead System around the Great Lakes region, our pipeline in the Bakken shale, our storage position in Cushing, we've got a great story around the liquids side over the next several years. But all of it starts with a focus on operations and integrity and safety. And certainly, you're going to hear that theme again and again in Steve Wuori's comments and those of John Loiacono. It all starts there. If you don't do that first thing right, the next objective, which investors are certainly interested in, is tough to attain. And so that is where this company focuses a substantial amount of its resources and time. That is job one, whether in terms of capital that we invest, what our people focus on day in day out just to make sure that we are a safe operator.
In terms of investment thesis, one of the key things about safety and integrity, it also applies to how we handle we our bondholders and our equity holders. And we want our investment to be a safe, stable, secure investment for our investors. We are targeting distribution growth in the 2% to 5% range. In our history, we've been around since 1991, we've never cut our distribution. We've been in a number of down cycles in that period of time, and we have never cut. Whether it was the financial crisis in '08 or '09, crude oil price crash in the '99 time frame, this company has never cut its distribution.We have a great growth story in the liquids side, and we'll get into that in more detail a little bit later on today. And it's that suite of organic growth opportunities that we think really makes Enbridge Energy Partners unique, that and the close relationship that we have with our general partner, Enbridge Inc., and we'll touch on the entities in the family here in a minute. And then for our bondholders, do understand, and we always say this, but we mean it, and we've conducted our business in this fashion as long as I've been associated with the partnership, and that is we will maintain an investment-grade credit rating, very important to us. As far as the members of the family go, the chart here shows you the various members of the Enbridge family. They're easily invested in, in the U.S. We got the parent company, Enbridge Inc., at the top of the ladder here. And the 2 entities we're going to focus on today are those that are at the bottom. In the magenta, Enbridge Energy Management, and in the olive green, Enbridge Energy Partners LP. EEP and EEQ are their ticker symbols. Enbridge Energy Partners, of course, your traditional master limited partnership, a vehicle that pays a big cash distribution every quarter. You get an allocation of taxable income at the end of the year rather than a 1099-DIV, and you get a form that you use to prepare your income tax return, K-1. And EEQ is a little bit different way of investing in Enbridge Energy Partners. So if you don't want the complexities that occasionally come with a partnership, it's not that hard for those who've got Turbo Tax, or go to your tax professional, but it is a little bit different than investing your traditional C corp. EEQ presents a different way to invest in Enbridge Energy Partners.
Instead of getting a cash distribution and a K-1, you get a dividend of additional shares. There are only 2 structures like this in the MLP space, ours and Kinder Morgan has the other. But this is a way for you to invest in EEP, and provided you meet the holding period requirements, you can cash in those dividends and receive capital gains treatment for them as you monetize your shares. So it's another way of investing in EEP. Both methods, the advantage of the partnership structure and the EEQ is a tax-effective way to get a good yield.I want take a moment and talk about Enbridge Inc, because it is one of the key things that differentiates Enbridge Energy Partners from most other folks in the MLP space. Enbridge Inc., by itself, is a very large company, many times the size of Enbridge Energy Partners, very substantial equity market cap, as the slide shows, $30 billion-plus. And for the investors on the bond side, a very high credit rating, A-low from Standard & Poor's and Dominion Bond Rating Service, Baa1 from the folks at Moody's. And one of key -- and I was mentioning this to one of the other fellows here today, we were talking before the discussion, Enbridge's track record on the dividend side and the growing of earnings per share is just about unmatched in the space. No matter what history you look at this company over, from its inception, the last 10 years, the last 5 years, the last couple of years, and then what the outlook is going forward, Enbridge Inc. has driven and provided tremendous growth and shareholder value through growth in earnings per share and dividends per share. The outlook for the company looking forward the next several years is growth in earnings per share of double digits, and it's a reasonable expectation you'd see growth in dividends per share in a similar fashion.
EEP's investment thesis is a little bit different than that of the parent company. And the way we look at EEP in the family is that it is more of a yield vehicle, so the yield here is in the 6.5% range. At yesterday's closing, it's a little bit more than that. But the key thing is yield with tax deferral makes this a very attractive investment opportunity for investors. Our history, again, is very stable distributions and proven growth in distributions over time. We have, by and large, what we think to be low-risk business assets or assets in our business mix inside the partnership, and again, I want to hit on this because it's a very important distinguishing characteristic for our partnership, that very strong general partner.I'm going to change gears a little bit here for a minute and talk about long-term fundamentals. And the reason really for this is we inside Enbridge, for as long as I've been with the company, have always taken a very careful approach to long-range planning, strategic planning, long-range planning, whatever term you want to use. This company is always very much focused on long-term fundamentals in North America, around the world, what does that mean to supply and demand inside the continent, regionally, what does that mean for transportation opportunities, very much focused on where our pipeline solution is going to be required now and in the future. And that's how we plan for the business. And so we look at long-term fundamentals like U.S. energy consumption, as shown here, from the EIA. And what is certainly clear from this chart is oil, no surprise to anybody in this room, oil and natural gas are a big part of the U.S. energy picture going into the future. And so these 2 areas are the centerpiece businesses inside of Enbridge Energy Partners.
If you look a little closer at oil supply, and this -- just to understand what the chart on the left is, it's showing crude imports and crude production. It doesn't pick up NGL production or refined products imports. And what you see here is an interesting development, and we'll talk about what this means in terms of our assets and the investment opportunities that we have in front of us in Steve Wuori's section in a little while. But certainly, you see growth in domestic supply. A few years ago, you would've thought I was crazy if I put that up there, but certainly, with the growth in the Bakken, the Eagle Ford, the Niobrara, especially Utica, certainly the Marcellus, other areas where you've got either crude oil windows or wet gas windows, you see growth in the United States and in oil production. Imports, though, are going to remain a very important part of the U.S. oil picture in the future. And we couldn't ask as a country for a better trading partner than Canada. And the oil sands resource that Canada has been blessed with is a tremendous source of oil for United States. We can't lose sight of that relative to other regions of the globe.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com