Canada’s transmission pipelines are regulated for their entire life cycle – from construction to operation to retirement – by a robust system which countries from around the world often study and work to replicate.
Pipelines are subject to strict regulations which vary depending on where the pipeline operates. If a pipeline crosses provincial or international borders, it’s regulated by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). Pipelines that lie completely within the borders of a single province are regulated by the provincial regulatory body (Alberta Energy Regulator, British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission, Ontario Energy Board, etc.).
Other organizations also hold high safety standards for pipeline operators, 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. 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 how pipelines are built, and the material used, are set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group). Experts develop the standards, which are frequently reviewed and updated to ensure they reflect advances in technology and best practices. The standards also go through a public review process.
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.