National Energy Board Ministerial Briefing Binder – Full Lifecycle Pipeline Oversight: Demonstrating Action on Safety and Transparency

ADVICE TO THE MINISTER
4.3

FOR INFORMATION

Security: Protected B
Date: 4 November 2015

Issue

  • The NEB’s regulatory oversight spans the entire life of a pipeline. This includes the application review process, construction, operation and ultimately abandonment.
  • We have strict requirements that companies must follow in order to build, operate and abandon their pipelines, and we will never hesitate to take strong enforcement action as required.
  • We also recognize the need to build greater public trust that our regulatory oversight activities will keep people safe and protect the environment.
  • We are focusing on building greater public trust by improving pipeline safety, leading regulatory excellence, and engaging Canadians more effectively.

Background:

  • An important part of the NEB’s job is to review and assess new project applications. Using the evidence that is placed before it during a public hearing, the NEB determines whether the project is in the public interest.
  • However, this is only one part – and merely the beginning – of our role. Our regulatory oversight spans the entire life of the pipeline – from the design of a project and the review process, and, if the project is approved, to construction, operation and ultimately until the pipe is safely removed from the ground (as shown in Figure 1).

Figure 1: Lifecycle Regulation

NEB Lifecycle Regulation

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NEB oversight throughout the lifecycle: Regulations - Conditions - Inpections - Audits - Enforcement.
NEB requires companies to consult throughout the entire lifecycle, with those potentially affected.

  • Planning
  • Application to Construct and Operate
  • NEB Public Hearing Decision/Recommendation
  • Construction
  • NEB Decision on Safe Operation
  • Application for Leave to Open
  • Operation and Maintenance
  • Application to Abandon
  • NEB Public Hearing Decision
  • Abandonment
  • In its assessment of new project applications, the NEB considers a wide variety of environmental, social and economic factors. Examples include pipeline safety, environmental and socio-economic impacts, engineering integrity, security, emergency response capability, impacts on Aboriginal communities and landowners, and traditional land uses.
  • If a project is approved, the Board sends inspectors to the construction site to verify that the company is building the pipeline according to the Board’s conditions and applicable regulations.
  • Through the life of the pipeline, the Board uses tools such as audits, inspections, compliance meetings, and field exercises to hold companies accountable for operating in a manner that is safe and protects the environment.
  • Once a pipeline is no longer needed, a company must submit an application for abandonment. The Board holds a public hearing to determine the conditions that must be met in order for the pipeline to be safely taken out of service.
  • Once the Pipeline Safety Act comes into force (June 2016), the NEB will also have oversight over abandoned pipelines.

Current Status / Next Steps:

Open and Transparent Government

  • The NEB is in the process of implementing a new and robust engagement program that will increase trust in the regulator by focusing on building public awareness of the activities we take to protect the public and the environment throughout the entire life of a pipeline. A hallmark of this initiative was the recent opening of regional offices in Montréal and Vancouver to facilitate relationship-building and issue resolution on an ongoing basis.
  • A regionally-focused and nimble engagement approach will help us to more effectively and efficiently address public concerns and continuously improve as a regulator. For example, we are taking steps to proactively engage the public outside of the application assessment process (e.g., targeted engagement of first responders, municipalities and other parties involved in emergency response; enhanced public awareness regarding third party damage prevention; and promotion of a national one call number).

More Accessible Information

  • In order to better engage Canadians about the NEB’s activities, we must ensure that the public has access to information they need about pipelines.
  • We recently conducted a consultation to seek Canadians’ views on the information they require about pipeline emergency management. The availability of company emergency management information has become a high-profile public concern, particularly in regions where there is significant proposed or ongoing pipeline development (e.g., Lower Mainland of BC and Montréal Area).
  • The NEB is now clarifying emergency information requirements that will be publicly available at various project stages. In addition, the NEB and the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) have agreed on a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU), the intent of which is to establish a relationship to share information and promote cooperation on matters related to NEB-regulated pipelines.
  • The NEB has also committed to making more information about its compliance verification activities publicly accessible. The NEB will soon be publicly posting its inspection reports on our website.

Life-cycle Regulation based on Evidenced-based analysis

  • Board Members are supported by approximately 490 staff of highly skilled engineers, environmental specialists, auditors, inspectors, lawyers, and engagement specialists.
  • We are committed to applying our resources in a manner that ensures strong science-based and rigorous regulatory oversight throughout the life of a pipeline.
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