Historical picture of pipeline construction

History of Pipelines

Canada has a proud history of pipeline construction and operation dating back to 1853 when a 25 kilometre cast-iron pipe moving natural gas to Trois Rivières, QC was completed.  It was probably the longest pipeline in the world at the time. In 1862, Canada would complete one of the world’s first oil pipelines, from the Petrolia oilfield in Petrolia, ON to Sarnia, ON.

By 1947, only three oil pipelines moved products to market in Canada. One transported oil from Turner Valley, AB to Calgary. A second moved imported crude from coastal Maine to Montreal, QC while a third brought American mid-continent oil into Ontario.

With the discovery of an abundant supply of crude oil and natural gas in the west, Canada’s oil and gas industry began expanding its vast pipeline network in the 1950s. This expansion contributed significantly to the development of domestic and international markets, while propelling the Canadian economy forward.

Major Canadian Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines

1912

Canadian Western Natural Gas builds a natural gas pipeline from Bow Island, AB to Calgary, AB (275 km.).

1923

Northwestern Utilities Company Limited completes construction of a 124 kilometre natural gas pipeline and 129 kilometres of distribution pipeline from Viking, AB to Edmonton, AB.

1941

Portland Montreal Pipe Line completes its 380 kilometre oil pipeline from South Portland, Maine, USA to Montreal, QC., to transport crude oil from the port in South Portland, Maine to refineries in Montreal was completed.

1944

The Canadian Oil Pipeline, otherwise known as Canol, completes a crude oil pipeline from Norman Wells, NT to Whitehorse, YK.

1950

Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. (now Enbridge Pipelines Inc) transports crude oil from Edmonton., AB  to Superior, Wisconsin, USA.

1953

Trans Mountain Pipeline system (now Kinder Morgan Canada) transports crude oil from Edmonton, AB to Vancouver, BC

Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. extends to Sarnia, ON.

1954

The Pembina Pipeline system is constructed to transport crude oil from the Pembina field near Drayton Valley, AB to Edmonton, AB. The Pembina system serves one of the oldest oil producing areas in Alberta.

1955

Westcoast Transmisison Company Ltd. (now Spectra Energy Inc.) begins construction on a 24-inch pipeline from Tayor, BC to the USA.

1957

TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. begins construction on a natural gas pipeline across Canada.

Westcoast Trasmission Company Ltd. begins tranporting natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the BC/US border.

TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.’s Alberta system, know as NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. or NGTL, begins operations. 1961

1976

Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. extends to Montreal, QC.

1977

Alyeska Pipeline completes construction of its Trans Alaska Pipeline System, known as TAPS, which moves crude oil from Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope to Valdez, AK, USA.

1981

Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. begins transporting natural gas from central Alberta to the US border.

1985

Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. completes construction of its Norman Wells, NT to Zama, AB pipeline, which is the first buried pipeline through permafrost in Canada.

1997

EnCana begins operation of its Express Pipeline, which transports crude oil from Hardisty, AB to markets in Montana, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, USA.

2000

Alliance Pipeline starts transporting natural gas from northeastern British Columbia and northeastern Alberta to Illinois, USA.

2011

TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. begins  transporting crude oil on its Keystone pipeline from Hardisty, AB to Cushing, Oklahoma, USA.

The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Project, owned by a consortium, receives federal Cabinet approval to construct a 1,200 kilometre natural gas pipeline from the Mackenzie Delta, NT and on to existing pipeline infrastructure in Alberta.

Energy Highways

Like roads and railways, Canada’s transmission pipelines form a major transportation network. More than 100,000 kilometres of underground pipeline transport virtually all of Canada’s daily crude and natural gas production.

Did you know?

The Interprovincial crude oil pipeline was the longest oil pipeline in the world when it was first constructed; the longest oil pipeline is now Russia’s Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline to Central Europe.

Did you know?

The first recorded use of pipelines to transport hydrocarbons was in China around 500 BC. Bamboo pipelines were used to transport natural gas from brine/gas wells to heat brine in order to recover salt. The bamboo sections were split lengthwise and the horizontal nodes removed. The halves were then glued back together and bound with twine.