Regulation and Standards

Regulation of transmission pipelines fall into two basic areas — regulations that help the industry ensure the safety of communities and the environment, and the regulation of transportation charges. In addition, the industry has established or participates in a number of engineering and scientific committees that help set widely accepted technical standards for construction and operation of pipelines.

Public and Environmental Safety

All aspects of the life cycle of a pipeline — from design and construction to operation and discontinuation (abandonment) — are strictly regulated by a number of regulatory agencies and government departments. These regulatory agencies and government departments ensure Canada’s pipelines are operated safely, responsibly and in the public interest.

Extensive federal and provincial regulation ensures the safe operation of pipelines in Canada. Regulators review CEPA member performance though inspections, audits and incident investigations.

Pipeline systems that cross provincial or international boundaries are regulated by the federal government, primarily under the authority of the National Energy Board. Pipeline operations may also be subject to regulations of other federal, provincial  or municipal bodies including Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Transport Canada, depending on the type and ownership of the land which the pipeline crosses. The Transportation Safety Board investigates pipeline incidents and makes recommendations for improvements.

Pipelines which are wholly contained within a province typically fall under that province’s regulatory jurisdiction.

Technical Standards

Effective standards are an important element of Canada’s robust pipeline industry. Regulations surrounding pipelines are based on rigorous standards developed by Canadian Standards Association (CSA). In total, there are 11 key standards published by CSA, which cover the design, construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipeline systems and underground storage of petroleum products and liquefied natural gas.

When called on to develop a standard, CSA forms a committee composed of volunteer members. The volunteers are experts selected to represent the various interest groups most likely to be affected by the standard. The CSA functions as a neutral third party, providing a structure and a forum for developing the standard. CEPA actively participates in the CSA process to develop standards to improve pipeline safety.

In the 1990s, CSA merged its four existing oil and gas pipeline standards into one that encompasses oil and gas transportation systems, distribution systems and offshore aluminum pipelines. The resulting CSA Standard Z662 — Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems, is the only standard in the world that deals with transportation of both oil and gas specifically. CSA Standard Z663 — Land Use Planning for Pipelines, provides guidance to local authorities, developers and pipeline operators.

To learn more about pipeline standards go to the Canadian Standards Association.

Pipeline Tolls and Tariffs

Regulators are also involved in establishing pipeline tolls and tariffs. Tolls are the rates changed by pipeline companies for transporting product through their lines. The toll, along with the other terms and conditions under which the service of a pipeline company are offered comprise the tariff. On transmission pipelines transportation tolls are paid by shippers, including oil and gas producers, brokers, and local distribution companies (LCDs) that transport natural gas through distribution lines to homes and businesses.