ARCHIVED - Pipeline Safety

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Pipelines deliver crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products to markets throughout Canada. Pipelines are necessary to deliver fuel to Canadians to heat their homes, drive their cars, and travel by bus, train and air.

There are an estimated 825,000 kilometres of transmission, gathering, and distribution lines in Canada, with most provinces having significant pipeline infrastructure. Approximately 73,000 kilometres of pipelines are federally regulated and transport over $100 billion of oil, gas, and petroleum products each year.

Based on many decades of experience, pipelines are a safe and efficient method of transporting large volumes of crude oil and petroleum products over long distances.

Canada has a comprehensive and rigorous pipeline safety regime of enforcement mechanisms and penalties administered by the National Energy Board (NEB) – an expert, arm’s-length and independent regulator.

Companies operating interprovincial and international pipelines in Canada are required to follow strict rules and regulations. Pipelines and equipment must meet Canadian Standards Association specifications, which are considered among the most stringent in the world. Safety, integrity, and emergency response programs specific to each company’s infrastructure are regularly reviewed and audited by the NEB. The NEB also conducts ongoing pipeline monitoring, inspections, and site visits, and it has the ability to issue mandatory compliance orders.

The NEB has the authority to prosecute for certain violations of the National Energy Board Act, with fines ranging from $100,000 to $1 million and imprisonment from one to five years.

In the event of a pipeline rupture or spill, the company is liable for all clean-up and remediation costs. Companies can also be prosecuted and, if found guilty, fined under the National Energy Board Act. Violators may also be subject to prosecution and fines under other federal and provincial legislation should the environment, species and wildlife, or waterways be affected. 

Pipeline regulations require that sediment and water content is less than 0.5 percent by weight to protect pipelines from corrosion. This standard applies to all forms of crude oil, including bitumen, transported by federally regulated pipeline.

Under the Government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, pipeline safety has been further strengthened by providing $13.5 million over two years to the NEB to increase the number of oil and gas pipeline inspections by 50 percent annually. It also doubles, from three to six, the number of annual comprehensive audits to identify potential issues and prevent incidents from occurring.

Economic Action Plan 2012 also provides the NEB with authority to impose administrative monetary penalties. These penalties add an additional enforcement and compliance tool for the NEB to address infractions. The administrative monetary penalties provide the means to strengthen safety in a preventative manner and penalties can be cumulative should the infractions not be addressed.

The health and safety of Canadians and the protection of the environment remain key priorities of the Government of Canada.

Media may contact: 

David Provencher
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada


Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada