When the word abandonment is used in relation to pipelines, it means the company operating it would like to permanently stop using the pipeline to move oil or gas through it.
The first thing the company has to do is make a plan for the abandonment.
This plan includes:
- Whether the pipeline will be removed, or “left in-place”, meaning left in the ground.
- The activities the company will have to do to abandon…
- And what the company will do to control any impacts from the abandonment.
The company must develop the abandonment plan with the people who may be affected. Like indigenous groups and landowners.
Next, the company needs to submit the application to the NEB, where it is assessed, looking at a lot of the same things that are looked at in an application to build a new pipeline.
The NEB also holds a public hearing for the abandonment application where people who are impacted have the opportunity to participate.
During the hearing, the abandonment plans are assessed. This includes whether the pipeline will be removed or left in place. For either option, the company has to show that the abandonment will be done in a way that protects the environment and the public.
If the pipeline is not removed, the company has to empty the pipe of all product, clean it, and cap the ends. They also need to remove above-ground facilities such as valves and pump stations.
If the NEB makes the decision to approve the application, it issues an order that includes conditions the company must take for the project.
For example: A condition could require the company to remove contaminated soil.
All conditions must be met before the abandonment is complete.
The NEB verifies this with inspections and audits.
If the pipeline is “abandoned in place” the company still has responsibilities for the pipeline, is liable and has to set aside money in case of an unforeseen event involving that pipeline in the future. And, the NEB continues to oversee it and requires the company to ensure safety to people and the environment.
Want to learn more about pipeline abandonment and the roles of the NEB? You can find more information on our webpage.
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