Pipeline Profiles: Westcoast

Pipeline system and key points

Updated September 2018

Westcoast Transmission System pipeline system map

The Westcoast Transmission System (Westcoast) transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in British Columbia and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States. The Westcoast Pipeline extends from points in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Alberta and British Columbia, to the Canada-U.S. border near Huntingdon, British Columbia. At the border Westcoast connects to Williams Northwest Pipeline, which supplies natural gas to the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The Westcoast Pipeline also connects to the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL).

Key points on the Westcoast Pipeline include interconnections with:

  • NGTL at NOVA/Gordondale and Sunset Creek;
  • Williams Northwest Pipeline at the Huntingdon Export;
  • FortisBC local distribution system at FortisBC Lower Mainland;
  • Southern Crossing pipeline at Kingsvale.

The pipeline commenced operations in 1957. In 2017, regulated assets included 5 825 km of pipeline, and various auxiliary infrastructures.

In July 2016, the Board approved Westcoast’s Jackfish Lake Expansion Project [Folder 2855929] (Order XG-W102-018-2016) [Filing A78556]. The project was underpinned by 10-year contracts for 137.5 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of incremental firm service and entailed construction of approximately 36 km of pipeline looping and additional compression.

In August 2016, the Board approved Westcoast’s High Pine Expansion Project [Folder 2839163] (Order XG-W102-024-2016) [Filing A79017]. The project was underpinned by 23-year contracts for 240 MMcf/d of incremental firm service and entailed construction of approximately 39 km of pipeline looping and additional compression.

In September 2017, the Board approved Westcoast’s Wyndwood Pipeline Expansion Project [Folder 3070734] (GH-001-2017) [Filing A86344]. The project was underpinned by average 12-year contracts for 50 MMcf/d of incremental firm service and entailed construction of approximately 27 km of pipeline looping.

Official Board documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the Westcoast pipeline can be found here: Westcoast pipeline regulatory documents [Folder 90718].

You can see the Westcoast pipeline and all NEB-regulated pipelines on the Board’s Interactive Pipeline Map. The map shows more detailed location information, the products carried by each pipeline, the operating status and more.

Condition Compliance

Updated September 2018

Every pipeline company in Canada must meet federal, provincial or territorial, and local requirements. This includes Acts, Regulations, rules, bylaws, and zoning restrictions. Pipelines are also bound by technical, safety, and environmental standards along with company rules, protocols and management systems. In addition to these requirements, the Board may add conditions to regulatory instruments that each company must meet. Condition compliance is monitored by the Board and enforcement action is taken when required. For a detailed list of conditions that Westcoast must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Westcoast Energy Inc., carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission”.

Safety Performance

Updated September 2018

The Board holds the companies it regulates accountable to protect the safety of Canadians and the environment. As part of this accountability, companies must report events such as incidents and unauthorized activities to the Board. For a summary of pipeline incidents and unauthorized activities on the Westcoast pipeline since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard and select “Westcoast Energy Inc., carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission”.

Emergency Management

Updated September 2018

The NEB checks to make sure companies are keeping pipelines safe by doing inspections, in-depth safety audits, and other activities. Yet, even with these precautions, an emergency could still happen. Sound emergency management practices improve public safety and environmental protection outcomes, and provide for more effective emergency response.

The NEB holds its regulated companies responsible for anticipating, preventing, mitigating, and managing incidents of any size or duration. Each company must have an emergency management program that includes detailed emergency procedures manuals to guide its response in an emergency situation. We oversee the emergency management program of a regulated company’s projects until they cease to operate.

The Board requires companies to publish information on their emergency management program and their emergency procedures manuals on their websites so Canadians can access emergency management information. To view Westcoast’s regional Integrated Contingency Plan, go to Enbridge’s Field Emergency Response Plans website, where its plans are organized by area of operation.

Throughput and capacityFootnote 1

Updated quarterly

Open data can be freely used and shared by anyone for any purpose. The data for these graphs are available.

Tolls

Updated September 2018

A toll is the price charged by a pipeline company for transportation and other services. Tolls allow pipeline companies to safely operate and maintain pipelines. Tolls also provide funds for companies to recover capital (the money used to build the pipeline), pay debts, and provide a return to investors. The interactive graph below shows the tolls on selected paths on the pipeline since 2006.

For tolling purposes, the Westcoast Pipeline is divided into four zones:

  1. Zone 1 consists of raw natural gas gathering or transmission pipelines.
  2. Zone 2 consists of natural gas processing plants.
  3. Zone 3 consists of sales gas transmission pipelines north of compressor station 2, near Chetwynd, British Columbia. Zone 3 is also referred to as Transportation North or T-North.
  4. Zone 4 consists of the sales gas transmission pipelines south of compressor station 2. Zone 4 is also referred to as Transportation South or T-South.

Tolls on Zones 1 and 2 are subject to the Framework for Light-Handed Regulation (RHW-1-98). For Zones 3 and 4, tolls for 2016 and 2017 were based on a negotiated settlement approved by the Board in 2016 by Order TG-003-2016 [Filing A76606]. Tolls are based on the cost of service, are zone-based, and are term-differentiated (for example, tolls for a five year contract are lower than tolls for a two year contract).

Official Board documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for the Westcoast pipeline can be found here: Westcoast toll documents [Folder 92844].

A list of shippers on the Westcoast pipeline is available on the Westcoast website (Capacity; Pipeline Contracted Firm Service).

Abandonment funding

Updated May 2018

The Board requires all pipelines to set aside funds to safely cease operation of a pipeline at the end of its useful life. In 2016, Westcoast estimated it would cost $810 million to do this. These funds will be collected over 40 years and are being set aside in a trust. Official Board documents related to abandonment funding can be found here, sorted by year and by company: abandonment funding documents [Folder 3300366].

Pipeline financial information

Updated March 2018

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the Board quarterly or annually. A strong financial position enables companies to maintain their pipeline systems, attract capital to build new infrastructure, and meet the market’s evolving needs. The data in this table comes from Westcoast’s Quarterly Surveillance Reports [Folder 235199].

Income statement information and equity ratios are for the Transmission division of Westcoast Energy Inc., as reported to the Board.

Table 1: Westcoast Transmission Pipeline financial data (Zones 3 and 4)
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Revenues (millions) $296 $323 $325 $397 $385 $394 $381 $416
Net Income (millions) $35 $46 $50 $53 $54 $51 $63 $85
Rate base (millions) $1 093 $1 074 $1 224 $1 349 $1 346 $1 347 $1 358 $1 603
Deemed equity ratio 36% 40% 40% 40% 40% 40% 40% 40%
Achieved return on equity 8.78% 10.01% 9.36% 9.54% 9.89% 9.01% 9.8% 9.8%

Corporate financial information

Updated February 2018

Westcoast Energy Inc., carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission, owns the Westcoast Transmission System. Westcoast Energy Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Enbridge, following Enbridge’s merger with Spectra Energy in February 2017.

Credit ratings and financial ratios provide an idea of the financial strength of a company, including its ability to attract capital to build new infrastructure and meet financial obligations. The credit ratings below are expert opinions of how likely the debt issuer is to live up to its obligations. The financial ratios provided below were calculated by DBRS.

Table 2: Westcoast Energy Inc. financial ratios and credit ratings
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Interest and fixed-charges coverage ratio (DBRS) 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.1 1.7 n/a
Cash Flow-to-Total Debt Ratio (DBRS) 13.7% 15.1% 16.0% 12.4% 12.6% n/a
DBRS credit rating A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low)
S&P credit rating BBB+ BBB BBB BBB BBB BBB+

Financial regulatory audits

Updated February 2018

The Board audits pipeline companies to confirm compliance with the National Energy Board Act, regulations, Board orders and Board decisions. Financial regulatory audits focus on toll and tariff matters such as detecting cross-subsidies. Westcoast’s last audit was completed in September 2009. Official Board documents related to Westcoast’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 571548]

 

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