Pipelines are subject to strict regulations by a number of regulating bodies. It varies depending on where the pipeline operates. If a pipeline crosses provincial or international borders, it’s typically regulated by the National Energy Board (NEB).
Pipelines that operate within a province/territory generally fall under the provincial/territorial regulator’s authority – examples include the Alberta Energy Regulator, British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission and the Ontario Energy Board.
Other organizations also keep safety standards for pipeline operators high, including Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board.
The Pipeline Act of 1949 (which was in place even before seatbelts were required in cars) created the foundation for Canada’s pipelines to become the safest in the world. Regulated for the entire life of the pipeline, pipeline operators follow strict rules detailing how pipelines are built, operated and even retired – while always putting environment and safety as the priority.
Standards for materials and methods are set high and carefully monitored.
The safety mandate for federal and provincial pipeline regulatory bodies encompasses three main areas. First, it’s determining whether or not a pipeline project is in the public interest. Second, they hold pipeline companies accountable for safe operation over the pipeline’s full life cycle – design, construction, operation, maintenance and retirement. And third, regularly inspecting and auditing pipelines during this entire life cycle of the pipeline.
Regulators and pipeline operators work together to keep the public and the environment safe.
Standards for how pipelines are built and the material used are set by the CSA Group (Canadian Standards Association). Experts develop the standards, which are frequently reviewed and updated to make sure the standards reflect advances in technology and best practices. The standards also go through a public review process.
Standards reflect the latest advances in safety technology.
CSA standards inform pipeline regulation and are, in some cases, the law. Penalties can be severe for any company that doesn’t follow them. Regulators have the power to revoke authorization of a pipeline project, issue fines, stop or restrict operations, and even pursue criminal prosecution.
Regulators have considerable power to enforce the laws.