Pipe­line Checkup

Pipe­line li­a­bil­ity is chang­ing in Canada, with new fed­eral rules set to take ef­fect in June

Alberta Oil - - CONTENTS -

The “pol­luter pays” Pipe­line Safety Act be­comes law in June. In­ci­dents like th­ese will soon be­come very, very costly

CANADA’S NEW PIPE­LINE SAFETY ACT is set to be­come law in late June, en­forc­ing a “pol­luter pays” prin­ci­ple on costs re­sult­ing from spills or leaks from fed­er­ally reg­u­lated oil and gas pipe­lines. With more than 73,000 kilo­me­ters of cross-bor­der pipe­lines in Canada, the new law is aimed at clar­i­fy­ing who is re­spon­si­ble not only for re­me­di­a­tion, but for safe­guard­ing aban­doned pipe­lines, as well. Cross­bor­der pipe­lines be­tween prov­inces or into the U.S. ac­count for only a frac­tion of Canada’s es­ti­mated 825,000-plus kilo­me­ters of oil and gas transmission, gath­er­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion lines. But it’s those cross-bor­der pipe­lines that tend to draw the most at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially when they in­volve mov­ing pe­tro­leum from a re­source-rich re­gion like the Prairies into Eastern Canada or south­west­ern B.C.

Fed­eral pipe­line reg­u­la­tor, the Na­tional En­ergy Board (NEB), over­sees about 100 com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing cross-bor­der pipe­lines in Canada. Legally, those com­pa­nies are ob­li­gated to no­tify the NEB im­me­di­ately of un­planned re­leases from their lines and, in ex­treme cases, to sur­ren­der ju­ris­dic­tion over spill re­sponse to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Since 2012, fed­eral pipe­line in­ci­dents have seen a sig­nif­i­cant drop in Canada, de­spite an in­crease in the num­ber of pipe­lines.

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