08/03/2012 12:58 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Enbridge boss calls pipeline safety record near perfect, but pledges improvement

VANCOUVER - The company proposing an oil pipeline across northern B.C. is defending its safety record, which has come under attack over its response to an oil spill in Michigan.

The president of Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) says in a statement issued today the company has the largest and most complex liquids pipeline system in the world — a system it operates with a 99.999 per cent safety record.

But Al Monaco says even that is not good enough and Enbridge strives for no spills, investing about $400 million last year alone in the safety of its vast pipeline network.

The company was rapped by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in its report into a 2010 spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

The report prompted the National Energy Board in Canada to announce it will increase safety audits on the company's Canadian operations in the coming months.

Enbridge has proposed a pipeline that would deliver crude from the Alberta oilsands to tankers on the B.C. coast. Environmental review hearings are underway and the federal government has set a Dec. 31, 2013 deadline for the panel's report on the Northern Gateway project.