Who holds pipeline companies accountable?

The answer to this question is simple: regulators, the industry and you.

Canada’s pipelines are among the safest in the world. Between 2002 and 2013, CEPA member companies transported oil and natural gas with a 99.999 per cent safety record. Canada was able to achieve this record because of a system that holds companies accountable and demands continuous improvement.

Here is a breakdown of how regulators, the industry and the Canadian public work together to ensure pipelines are operating safely.

Compliance and enforcement: Accountability and the role of regulators

Provincial and federal regulations play an important role in preventing pipeline incidents. Government regulators use audits, inspections and investigations to ensure pipeline companies are complying with these regulations.

If a company does not follow the rules, a regulator can:

  • Revoke its authorization for a project
  • Issue a fine
  • Stop or restrict the company’s operations (which can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue for a company)
  • Press criminal charges

These measures help hold pipeline companies accountable.

Watch this video to learn more about how pipeline regulations are enforced:

Did you know: Canada uses a “polluter pays” principle for pipeline incidents? If an incident occurs on a pipeline company’s line, the company pays for the clean up. And, under proposed legislation, a pipeline company will be financially liable for spills or leaks on its line even if the operator is not at fault.

Pipeline companies hold each other accountable

The goal of the entire pipeline industry is zero incidents. Pipeline companies know a leak on any operator’s pipeline jeopardizes this goal. CEPA’s member companies are actively working together through the CEPA Integrity First® program to take their performance to the highest level and hold themselves and one another accountable to the public. Through the program, the industry is developing common requirements in areas such as pipeline integrity, emergency management and control room management.

The pipeline industry established the CEPA Integrity First program because companies wanted to work together. Developing the program was not something the industry was required to do by regulations; it is something the industry wanted to do in order to continuously improve safety.

You, the public, keep pipeline companies accountable

In order to build and operate pipelines, the industry must have a social license from Canadians. By voicing your concerns about safety and environmental protection, and by participating in stakeholder consultations, you are helping the pipeline industry to become even safer.

Your voice matters. So let’s keep the dialogue open and continue talking about pipelines.

Learn more about how the Canadian pipeline industry is working to be accountable to the public:


The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2013, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.