Fact sheet: The National Energy Board is a life cycle regulator

  • The NEB holds those we regulate accountable so that Canadians and the environment are protected. Although attention is often focused on the NEB’s review of applications, we continue to regulate over the complete lifecycle of a pipeline project using a wide variety of enforcement tools and activities.

    Phases of a regulated facility
    Text description of this graphic

    Facility life cycle and NEB tools and activities

    • Company's planning and pre-application
      • Information requirements (Filing Manual)
      • Pre-application meetings
    • Application assessment and/or public hearing
      • Environmental and socio-economic assessment
      • Conditions on approval
    • Construction and post construction
      • Ensure condition compliance
      • Inspections
      • construction monitoring reports
    • Operations and maintenance
      • Audits
      • Inspections
      • Incident inspection
    • Abandonment
      • Environmental and socio-economic assessment
      • Conditions on approval
      • Inspections

Our top priorities are safety of Canadians and protecting the environment. Pipeline design materials, construction and operations are governed by requirements set out in the NEB’s National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations, which reference the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). CSA requirements place a heavy emphasis on quality throughout a project’s life cycle.

  • For large-scale projects, the NEB requires companies to consult with all individuals, groups and agencies that the project may affect. The consultation should begin early in the planning and design phases of the project, and continue throughout the project’s life cycle.

Pre-application and application

We provide guidance on what we expect from a company in our Filing Manual and sometimes in pre-application meetings.

A company may file a project description before it files an application. We use this description to start our public and Aboriginal engagement as well as our Participant Funding Program.

When the company files its application to build a new pipeline, we review the application to see if it can be built and operated safely, and whether it is in the public interest. We hear from directly affected people and groups, and may hear from experts about concerns. We then make a decision or recommendation on the pipeline approval, along with any necessary conditions.

Construction and operations

Once a project receives approval, we use our enforcement tools to make sure the company quickly and effectively complies with NEB requirements.

Some conditions must be met before construction may begin. We must also evaluate and approve a detailed route.

During construction and operation, some of the enforcement tools we use are notices of non-compliance, orders, administrative monetary penalties, suspension of operation, and audits.

To check on compliance and safety, we inspect construction activity. We also review reports provided by the company.

We expect companies to have effective awareness programs and pipeline crossing guidelines, to make sure development is safe for those who live and work nearby. During construction and after a project is built, we address landowner concerns through our issue resolution process. This may involve a field visit or individual follow-up in person with the landowner and the company.

Each year, the NEB conducts six comprehensive audits and at least 150 inspections of regulated companies to verify compliance. It also conducts more than 100 technical meetings and exercises. These tools allow us to detect and correct non-compliances before they become issues.

We post all compliance and enforcement actions we take on our public website.

After a pipeline is built, the company may decide to add to or change the pipeline. We oversee all such activities. Some may need further approval.

We require companies to strive for zero ruptures. Should an incident occur that creates a risk to public safety or protection of property and the environment, we can order the company to take immediate actions to address the risk. We then investigate the incident and report the results. We expect companies to remediate the effects of a pipeline leak or rupture, as well as put in place actions to prevent more occurrences.


If a company wants to abandon a facility, it must submit an application to us which includes details on the safety, environment, and discussions with affected landowners. We will review the application and if it is approved, we may impose conditions and then inspect the abandonment activities. The company is responsible to have the funds available to address any issues during and after abandonment. NEB oversight typically ends when the pipeline abandonment project work is completed and all NEB-ordered conditions are met.

Download The National Energy Board is a Lifecycle Regulator [PDF 152 KB]

For more information on the NEB and its role as a life cycle regulator:

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