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Focus on Safety and Environment - A Comparative Analysis of Pipeline Performance - 2000-2009 [PDF 3754 KB]

December 2011

Copyright/Permission to Reproduce

ISSN 1719-6183

From left to right: Trenching, Unloading pipe, Pipeline right-of-way

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
Overview of Safety and Environmental Performance Indicators
1. Introduction
1.1 NEB Safety Role
1.2 2000-2009 Pipeline Performance Indicators
1.3 Reference Organizations
2. Pipeline Safety Performance
2.1 Pipeline Fatalities
2.2 Injuries
2.3 Detailed Injury Analysis
2.4 Safety Inspections
2.5 Pipeline Ruptures
2.6 Unauthorized Activities in Pipeline Rights of Way
3. Pipeline Environmental Performance
3.1 Liquid Pipebody Releases
3.2 Liquid Release Frequency Comparisons
3.3 Liquid Release Volume Comparisons
3.4 Operational Liquid Leaks
3.5 Non-Pipeline Liquid Spills
3.6 Gas Releases and Operational Gas Leaks
3.7 Gas Release Frequency Comparison
3.8 Operational Gas Leak Frequency
4. NEB-Regulated Pipeline Performance Indicator Summary
5. Looking Ahead
Appendix One - Pipeline Performance Indicator Data

List of Figures and Tables


2.1 Injury Frequency
2.2 Liquid Pipeline Injury Frequency
2.3 Gas Pipeline Injury Frequency
2.4 Employee Injury Frequency
2.5 Contractor Injury Frequency
2.6 2009 NEB Pipeline Safety Inspections Non-Compliances
2.7 NEB-Regulated Pipeline Ruptures 1991-2009
2.8 NEB-Regulated Pipeline Rupture Causes
2.9 Pipeline Rupture Cause Comparison
3.1 Pipebody Liquid Release Frequency
3.2 Pipebody Liquid Release Volume
3.3 Pipeline Operational Liquid Leak Frequency
3.4 Pipebody Gas Release Frequency
3.5 Operational Gas Leak Frequency


2.1 Cumulative Serious Injuries 2000-2009
2.2 Contractor Serious Injury Causes 2000-2009
2.3 Unauthorized Activities on NEB-Regulated Pipeline Rights of Way
3.1 Pipebody Liquid Releases
3.2 Liquid Release Reporting Criteria
3.3 Pipeline Operational Leaks
3.4 Non-Pipeline Liquid Spills
3.5 Pipeline Gas Releases and Leaks
3.6 Gas Release Reporting Criteria
4.1 NEB-Regulated Pipeline Performance Indicator Summary
A1.1 Companies Reporting Performance Indicator Data for 2009
A1.2 NEB-Regulated Pipeline Kilometres
A1.3 Pipeline Contractor and Employee Injury Frequency Raw Data
A1.4 Gas and Liquid Pipeline Worker Hours
A1.5 Reference Organization Pipeline Lengths
A1.6 Reference Organization Injury Frequency Data

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

CAPP Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
CLC Canada Labour Code, Part II
CONCAWE European Oil Companies Association for Environment, Health and Safety
CSA Canadian Standards Association
EGIG European Gas Pipeline Incident Data Group
ERCB Energy Resources Conservation Board (formerly Alberta Energy and Utilities Board)
HRSDC Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
NEB National Energy Board
OPR-99 Onshore Pipeline Regulations, 1999
PHMSA Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration


This report, Focus on Safety and Environment: A Comparative Analysis of Pipeline Performance, 2000-2009,examines the number and frequency of various incidents that affect pipeline safety, integrity and the environment. The objective of this report is to present safety and environmental performance indicators of NEB-regulated onshore pipelines and to compare the data to those of other jurisdictions.

Pipeline constructionThe first of the NEB’s annual performance indicators reports, Focus on Safety: a Comparative Analysis of Pipeline Safety Performance, waspublished in April 2003. This ninth edition of the report includes data from 1 January 2000 through 31 December 2009.

The NEB continually seeks input and feedback from stakeholders on the value of this report and ways it can be improved. Any comments or questions pertaining to this report should be directed to:

In English or French:

Ms. Kim Maddin
Operations Business Unit
National Energy Board
444 Seventh Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
T2P 0X8
Phone: 403-299-2763
Toll Free: 1-800-899-1265
Facsimile: 403-292-5503

Overview of Safety and Environmental Performance Indicators

The National Energy Board has been regulating pipelines so that they are safe, secure and environmentally responsible since 1959. While much has changed since then, safety and environmental protection are of paramount importance to the NEB.

Injury Rate

NEB-regulated pipeline workers are experiencing fewer on-the-job injuries. The 10-year historical average shows 1.1 injuries reported for every 100 full-time equivalent workers. In 2008, this rate decreased to0.99 injuries and to 0.53 injuries for every 100 full-time workers in 2009.

Traditionally, contract workers are hurt on the job more often than regular, full-time workers. In 2008 this remained the case with 1.16 injuries reported for every 100 full-time equivalent contractors versus 0.68 reported for every 100 full-time employees. In 2009 contractors reported 0.53 injuries compared to 0.57 reported for employees.

There was a drop in the injury rate for liquid pipeline workers in 2009. There were 1.63 injuries reported for every 100 workers in 2007. In 2008, this rate dropped to 1.37 and to 0.47 injuries for every 100 full-time workers in 2009. Those working on gas pipelines reported 2.16 injuries for every 100 full-time workers in 2007. This rate dropped to 0.59 in 2008 but rose to 0.69 injuries for every 100 full-time workers in 2009.

There were no work-related fatalities on NEB-regulated pipelines in 2009. In addition, no member of the general public has been hurt by a NEB-regulated pipeline during the review period.

Liquid Spills

In 2008, there were no spills from a pipebody on liquid pipelines. In 2009, this rate rose to 0.1 pipebody liquid spills for every 1,000 kilometres of NEB-regulated pipeline. This is equivalent to the 10-year average reported for liquid pipelines. The amount of liquid hydrocarbons that was released has increased as well. In 2009, 86.1 m³ of product was released from the pipebody for every 1 000 kilometres of pipeline. The 10-year average for pipebody liquid spills is 41.8 m³ per 1 000 kilometre.

The operational liquid leak frequency also increased from two leaks per 1 000 km in 2008, to four leaks per 1 000 km in 2009.

Gas Releases

The number of releases from a natural gas pipebody release decreased from 0.2 releases per 1 000 km of pipelines in 2008, to 0.1 in 2009. The 2009 rate is equivalent to the 10-year average reported for gas pipelines.

Operational gas release frequency decreased from 1.2 releases per 1 000 km in 2008, to 1.0 per 1 000 km in 2009; however, the 2009 frequency remains slightly higher than the 10-year average of 0.9.

1. Introduction

1.1 NEB Safety Role

Inspectors on right-of-way In 2009, the NEB regulated 119 hydrocarbon pipeline companies that operate approximately 72 000 kilometres of pipelines across Canada under the National Energy Board Act and the Onshore Pipeline Regulations, 1999 (OPR-99). This network includes large diameter, small diameter, highpressure natural gas, crude oil, and oil products pipelines.

The NEB gathers information on performance indicators that relate to safety and environmental impacts through both compulsory reporting on a per incident basis and on an annual voluntary basis, for all pipelines regulated through the OPR-99. The following performance indicators are tracked:

  • fatalities;
  • injuries;
  • pipeline ruptures;
  • pipeline contacts;
  • liquid releases, leaks and spills; and
  • gas releases.

The voluntary performance data are normalized on the basis of pipeline length and hours worked, allowing for annual comparisons, as well as comparisons with other organizations. The NEB compiles this annual report in order to provide a historic trend analysis.

1.2 2000-2009 Pipeline Performance Indicators

Analyzing these voluntarily reported data helps both the NEB and its regulated companies to monitor safety and environmental performance. The information gathered for this report represents data to 31 December 2009. A list of companies that have voluntarily reported environmental and safety information for 2009 is provided in Appendix One, Pipeline Performance Indicator Data.

In 2009, reporting by pipeline companies showed that several performance indicators have improved since 2008. From a safety perspective, injury frequencies for both contractors and employees decreased in 2009, returning to levels comparable to those reported in 2004 and 2005. Safety performance indicators are discussed in detail in Chapter Two of this report.

Regarding environmental protection, two pipebody liquid releases (releases originating from the pipe itself, excluding fittings) were reported, and the number of other major pipeline and non-pipeline spills and liquid leaks remained approximately equal to those reported in previous years. Additionally, there were five natural gas pipeline ruptures on NEB-regulated pipelines in 2009. Environmental performance indicators are discussed in detail in Chapter Three of this report.

In this report, the term "pipeline" includes all branches, extensions, tanks, reservoirs, storage facilities, pipes, pumps, valves, racks, compressors and loading facilities integral to the operation of a hydrocarbon pipeline. 1.3 Reference Organizations

1.3 Reference Organizations

Where comparable data are available, the NEB compares performance indicators with that of other agencies. These external data are taken from publicly available documents provided on websites and in published reports. The following organizations have been selected for comparison in this report:

Erosion control at a river crossing

2. Pipeline Safety Performance

The NEB recognizes the efforts regulated companies and their contractors make to operate safe workplaces. That being said, the nature of the industry and the number of persons working within it pose a continuous risk. In order to reduce risk to the public and workers, proactive safety management and a culture of safety must be values and priorities for industry.

2.1 Pipeline Fatalities

Fatality data provided by NEB-regulated pipeline companies are evaluated to determine if each incident involved employees, contractors or members of the public and whether they involved activities related to the construction, operation or maintenance of pipelines.

Between 1991 and 1997 five contract workers conducting construction activities were killed on NEB-regulated pipelines. For the next ten years, there were no work-related fatalities reported to the NEB, though several thousand kilometres of new pipeline was constructed and existing pipelines were expanded during that period. Two fatalities were reported in 2008; one involved a contractor conducting construction activities, while the second involved an employee performing an operation and maintenance activity. There were no work-related fatalities on NEB-regulated pipelines in 2009.

2.2 Injuries

Injury frequency data are reported through a combination of mandatory reporting under the OPR-99 and voluntary reporting under the SPI initiative. Therefore the data includes all lost time and restricted workday injuries, but exclude fatalities. For this report, injury data submitted by NEB-regulated companies have been separated into three categories:

  1. Employee Injuries
    These are injuries that occur while an employee is involved in activities associated with their job duties. Employee data from NEB-regulated pipelines do not include head office staff but do include staff from other facility offices.
  2. Contractor Injuries
    These are injuries that occur while a contract worker is involved in activities pursuant to their contract with a pipeline company. Contractor data include contractors performing activities related to the construction, operation, or maintenance of NEB-regulated pipelines.
  3. Worker Injuries
    These are an aggregate of the above two categories: employee and contractor injuries. These results are shown in Figure 2.1. All injury frequencies are measured in terms of injuries per 200 000 hours of work. This measurement is widely used in the health and safety industry and is equivalent to the number of hours worked by 100 full-time employees in one year. Worker injury frequency decreased from 1.0 injuries per 200 000 hours in 2008 to 0.53 in 2009.

Figure 2.1 - Injury Frequency

Figure 2.1 - Injury Frequency

2009 was a heavy construction year for the pipeline industry, with employees and contractors working nearly twice as many hours as they worked in 2008, also a heavy construction year. The injury frequency decreased significantly from 2007 to 2008 and continued to decrease in 2009. However, the Board remains concerned about the number of injuries sustained by workers in the pipeline industry. Continual improvement is important. A summary of employee and contractor hours and the number of injuries incurred since 2000 is provided in Appendix One - Pipeline Performance Indicator Data.

2.3 Detailed Injury Analysis

To better understand reported injury frequencies, data have been separated by contractor and employee and by liquid and gas pipelines. In addition, the types of serious injuries suffered by contractors and their causes, as well as safety non-compliances observed by NEB inspectors have been evaluated.

NEB-Regulated Liquid Pipeline Injuries

Liquid pipelines include crude oil, refined product and NGL pipelines. Contractor, employee and worker injury frequencies for NEB-regulated liquid pipelines are shown in Figure 2.2. No injuries were reported in 2002 on liquid pipelines.

Figure 2.2 - Liquid Pipeline Injury Frequency

Figure 2.2 - Liquid Pipeline Injury Frequency

The contractor injury frequency has historically been higher than that of company employees, increasing steadily from 2004 through 2007, however this trend did not continue in 2008 and 2009. The employee injury frequency for liquid pipelines has been relatively low for the past eight years. The Board observed an increase in the frequency of employee injuries from 2007 to 2008, and then a decrease from 1.37 in 2008 to 0.58 in 2009. The contractor injury frequency of 0.46 injuries per 200 000 hours worked on liquid pipelines in 2009 is a reduction of 34 per cent over the 2008 frequency of 1.37 and a reduction of 84 per cent over the 10-year average of 2.93.

NEB-Regulated Gas Pipeline Injuries

Gas pipelines include natural gas, both sweet and sour and high vapour pressure product pipelines. The injury frequency for all workers including contractors and employees for NEB-regulated gas pipelines is shown in Figure 2.3.

Figure 2.3 - Gas Pipeline Injury Frequency

Figure 2.3 - Gas Pipeline Injury Frequency

The gas pipeline employee and contractor injury frequencies both increased in 2009. The employee injury frequency increased from 0.52 in 2008 to 0.57 in 2009. Contractor injury frequencies increased from 0.68 in 2008 to 0.78 in 2009. The Board observes that the 2009 frequencies remain below the ten-year averages of 0.80 and 1.84, for employees and contractors respectively.

Employee Injury Frequency Comparisons

NEB-regulated pipeline employee injury frequencies are compared to reference organizations Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) for the period 2000 to 2009 in Figure 2.4. NEB-regulated pipeline companies show a marked increase in the number of employee injuries between 2005 and 2007, while the CAPP reported frequency decreased. In 2008, the employee injury frequency fell by 56 per cent; this reduction to 0.68 is now more consistent with the reported CAPP frequency of 0.64. CAPP data were not available for 2009 at the time of this comparison.

Figure 2.4 - Employee Injury Frequency

Figure 2.4 - Employee Injury Frequency

HRSDC publishes employee injury frequency data, which include disabling injuries to employees, both in the field and in head and regional offices, for all federally regulated workplaces.

NEB-regulated pipeline employee injury data do not include head offices. The HRSDC pipeline employee injury frequency for 2000 to 2007 ranged from 0.3 to 0.6 injuries per 200 000 hours. HRSDC data were not available for 2008 or 2009 at the time of this comparison.

Contractor Injury Frequency Comparisons

A comparison of contractor injury frequencies relative to CAPP data from 2000 through 2008 in Figure 2.5 show that NEB-regulated pipeline injury frequencies were on average, similar to those reported by CAPP. The NEB nine-year average indicates that approximately two out of 100 full-time contract workers were injured every year. CAPP data for 2009 were not available at the time of this comparison.

Figure 2.5 - Contractor Injury Frequency

Figure 2.5 - Contractor Injury Frequency

Contractor Serious Injuries

The types of serious injuries incurred by contract workers on NEB-regulated pipelines and reported between 2000 and 2009 are categorized in Table 2.1. Serious injury is defined as an injury that results in:

  • the fracture of a major bone;
  • the amputation of a body part;
  • the loss of sight in one or both eyes;
  • internal haemorrhage;
  • third degree burns;
  • unconsciousness; or
  • the loss of function of a body part.
Table 2.1 - Cumulative Serious Injuries 2000-2009
Type of Event or Exposure Number of Serious Injuries
Contact with Objects & Equipment
Struck by Object 9
Caught in Object 5
Struck against Object 1
Contact with Electricity 2
Other 0
Fall on Same Level 0
Fall to Lower Level 4
Other 0
Transportation Accidents 2
Fire and Explosions 0
Total Number of Serious Injuries 23

In 2009 seven serious injuries were reported, five of which were suffered by contractors, and two of which were suffered by employees. The Board observes that contractors suffer a disproportionate number of serious injuries compared to employees, even though the contractor injury frequency for all injuries has decreased in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and is now slightly lower than employee injury frequency for 2009.

The longer-term trend for contractor injury frequency is, on average, higher than that of employees. Preventative measures such as hazard assessments, proactive safety management programs and worker education should be designed to reduce any increased risk. The NEB has conducted further analysis on the causes of these contractor incidents as shown in Table 2.2.

Table 2.2 - Contractor Serious Injury Causes 2000-2009
Direct Causes 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total
standard Acts
Improper position for task   1     1         2 4
Improper placement 1 1   1     1   1 1 6
Using equipment improperly   1       1       2 4
Failure to warn 1                   1
Failure to secure       1       2 1   4
Failure to follow procedures           1         1
standard Conditions
Hazardous environ-
mental conditions
          1         1
Inadequate sign or label         1           1
Total Injuries 2 3 0 2 2 3 1 2 2 5 22
Basic Causes                      
Job Factors Inadequate leadership / supervision 1 2                 3
Inadequate tools and equipment       1       1 1 1 4
Inadequate work standards       1 1         1 3
Inadequate engineering           1   1     2
Personal Factors Poor
  1       1 1     2 5
Lack of knowledge           1     1 1 3
Improper motivation 1       1           2
Total Injuries 2 3 0 2 2 3 1 2 2 5 22

2.4 Safety Inspections

As part of its commitment to monitor compliance with the OPR-99, safety regulations and associated technical standards, the NEB regularly inspects pipeline construction projects and operating pipelines under its jurisdiction. When contraventions of the Canada Labour Code (CLC) or OPR-99 are noted during inspections they are often corrected immediately, while the NEB inspector is onsite. Those which are not immediately corrected receive continued attention and follow-up after the inspection is complete. All contraventions are recorded and tracked so that the NEB and the industry may pay special attention to areas of concern. This allows the NEB and its regulated companies to apply a proactive approach to incident prevention and overall safety management. The non-compliances observed during NEB safety inspections in 2009 are shown in Figure 2.6.

Figure 2.6 - 2009 Pipeline Safety Inspections Non-Compliances

Figure 2.6 - 2009 Pipeline Safety Inspections Non-Compliances


In 2009, the three most common non-compliances were: safety equipment inadequately maintained or missing (safety equipment includes machine guards, guardrails, toe boards etc.); hazardous product storage or usage- related non-compliances; and housekeeping-related non-compliances.

2.5 Pipeline Ruptures

Compressor stationRuptures are defined as a "loss of containment event that immediately impairs the operation of a pipeline" Pipeline ruptures have the potential to be severely detrimental to the environment and to public and worker safety. Pipeline ruptures are always investigated to determine their primary cause. The number of NEB-regulated pipeline ruptures since 1991 and their primary cause are shown in Figure 2.7 These are considered to be both safety and environmental performance indicators.

Figure 2.7 - NEB-Regulated Pipeline Ruptures 1991-2009

Figure 2.7 - NEB-Regulated Pipeline Ruptures 1991-2009

Between 1991 and 2002, there was an average of 2.5 ruptures per year. In 1999, companies were required under the OPR-99 to develop and implement pipeline integrity management programs. Ruptures declined from 2002 to 2006 and in 2008. There were, however, two ruptures on liquids pipelines in 2007. In 2009 there were five ruptures on NEB-regulated pipelines, all of which occurred on natural gas pipelines.

Of the five ruptures that occurred in 2009, four were caused by metal loss or cracking and the fifth occurred when a contractor employed by the pipeline company struck the line.

Figure 2.8 is a breakdown of reported ruptures on NEB-regulated pipelines and their primary causes. The primary cause of ruptures on NEB-regulated pipelines between 1991 and 2009 was corrosion due to cracking and metal loss. Cracking includes hydrogen-induced and mechanical damage delayed cracking, stress corrosion, and corrosion fatigue. Metal loss includes both internal and external corrosion. The category of "Other Causes" includes improper operation, fire and yet to be determined causes.

Figure 2.8 - NEB-Regulated Pipeline Rupture Causes

Figure 2.8 - NEB-Regulated Pipeline Rupture Causes

Some pipelines of certain construction methods have experienced a higher rupture frequency than others.[1] A number of factors have contributed to a lower rate of ruptures on pipelines, including the quality of pipeline coatings and cathodic protection, new construction methods, effective pressure testing and well developed integrity management programs.

[1] Jeglic, F. Analysis of Ruptures and Trends on Major Canadian Pipeline Systems. National Energy Board, Calgary, Canada, 2004.

Rupture Cause Comparisons

The causes of NEB-regulated pipeline ruptures since 1991 is compared to those reported by the Energy Resources Conservation Board, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and European Gas Pipeline Incident Data Group in Figure 2.9. While each organization examined the causes of ruptures occurring over different timeframes, the leading cause of ruptures generally remains the same from year to year.

Figure 2.9 - Pipeline Rupture Cause Comparison

Figure 2.9 - Pipeline Rupture Cause Comparison

To facilitate a more representative comparison between organizations with different reporting criteria, ruptures caused by metal loss and cracking, as defined by CSA Z662, have been combined and compared to ruptures caused by corrosion. Ruptures brought on by natural causes were compared with ruptures caused by geotechnical matters and other causes. In contrast to the NEB, the leading cause of ruptures reported in other jurisdictions is external interference. Because of differences in pipeline purpose (i.e., gathering, transmission, distribution), exact comparisons are difficult, which may account for the visible differences in reported rupture or failure modes shown in Figure 2.9. The density of the ERCB-regulated pipeline network coupled with high levels of construction in the Alberta oil and gas sector may account for higher external interference rates in Alberta.

2.6 Unauthorized Activities in Pipeline Rights of Way

Unauthorized activities reported under the NEB Pipeline Crossing Regulations (Part I and Part II) include actions that have the potential to damage a pipeline or that may impede access to a pipeline for the purposes of maintenance or emergency response. As noted previously external interference is a leading cause of ruptures in many jurisdictions.

Unauthorized activities or events which are considered to be indicators related to pipeline integrity include:

  • Movement of vehicles or equipment over pipelines;
  • Construction activities with no soil disturbance;
  • Construction, landscaping, or grading that results in soil disturbance; and
  • Construction, landscaping, or grading that results in pipeline contact.

Pipeline weights

The total number of unauthorized activities in rights of way between 2005 and 2007 had stabilized at approximately 70 per year. However this increased to 126 unauthorized activities reported in 2008 and again to 146 in 2009. This is significantly greater than the ten-year average of 70 per year shown in Table 2.3. Note that increasing urban encroachment on pipeline rights of way is a growing concern and may result in an increased number of unauthorized activities. Furthermore, beginning in 2008, several companies invested additional resources in landowner engagement and reinforcement of reporting criteria, which may have resulted in more accurate and complete reporting of unauthorized activities along their rights of way.

Table 2.3 - Unauthorized Activities on NEB-Regulated Pipeline Rights of Way
Year Activities With No Soil Disturbance Actvities With Soil Disturbance Pipeline Contacts Total
Landowner Contractor Landowner Contractor Landowner Contractor
2000 5 0 12 26 0 2 45
2001 7 0 14 27 1 0 49
2002 2 0 7 13 0 1 23
2003 9 4 7 30 2 0 52
2004 4 2 12 33 1 1 53
2005 11 2 20 37 0 1 71
2006 6 4 23 32 0 1 66
2007 8 9 28 21 0 2 68
2008 7 3 65 51 0 0 126
2008 4 21 60 64 0 0 149
Average 6.3 4.5 24.8 33.4 0.4 0.8 70.2

The number of pipeline contacts remains consistently low, ranging from one to two per year. In 2009, for the second year in a row, there were no reported unauthorized pipeline contacts. Overall, contacts make up less than 5 per cent of the total number of unauthorized activities.

3. Pipeline Environmental Performance

NEB regulated companies are required to develop environmental emergency response programs addressing potential upset condPipeline constructionitions on their systems. These programs would take into consideration the magnitude of facilities and activities that could potentially be impacted during a liquid hydrocarbon release. A release of this nature has the potential to affect human health, harm wildlife, aquatic life and vegetation as well as affect surface and groundwater quality by contaminating these water supplies for present and future uses.

As a performance indicator, any pipeline failure (including ruptures and leaks) resulting in a release of more than 1.5 m³ (1 500 L) of liquid, or resulting in a significant adverse effect on the environment must be reported pursuant to the NEB OPR-99. Data regarding liquid releases of any volume or effect are requested from NEB-regulated companies under the SPI initiative.

In the case of a spill, leak or major release, the Board’s role is to ensure that the companies responsible conduct Environmental Site Assessments and provide a Remedial Action Plan for cleaning up contamination at the spill site and eventual restoration to its original or equivalent capability. The NEB continues to monitor situations where remediation of soil, surface water or groundwater contamination is ongoing.

3.1 Liquid Pipebody Releases

Pipebody releases describe any leak which originates from the body of the pipe including cracks and pinholes. Pipebody liquid releases reportable under the OPR-99 are shown in Table 3.1. NEB-regulated pipelines experienced very few pipebody liquid releases between 2000 and 2009. As highlighted in Table 3.1, there were no liquid releases in 2000, 2003, 2004 or 2008 from NEB-regulated pipelines. Overall, NEB-regulated liquid pipelines have a ten-year average of 0.1 pipebody liquid releases per 1 000 kilometres or one release per 10 000 kilometres of pipe. However there were two liquid pipebody releases in 2009, one of which released significant volumes of hydrocarbon. The major release occurred on private land and did not impact any water bodies in the area. The Board is monitoring ongoing remediation and company management of residual contamination.

Table 3.1 - Pipebody Liquid Releases
Year Number of Liquid
Pipe Body Releases
>1.5 m³
Volume of Liquid
Pipe Body Releases
2000 0 0
2001 2 3650
2002 2 52
2003 0 0
2004 0 0
2005 2 254
2006 4 39
2007 4 1182
2008 0 0
2009 2 1243

3.2 Liquid Release Frequency Comparisons

The release frequency for NEB-regulated liquid pipelines is compared to that of reference organizations in Figure 3.1. It is important to consider that the reporting criteria for liquid releases may vary slightly from organization to organization as shown in Table 3.2. In an effort to make the comparison more meaningful, data from PHMSA and European Oil Companies Association for Environment, Health and Safety (CONCAWE) are sorted to consider only incidents which meet NEB reporting criteria.

Figure 3.1 - Pipebody Liquid Release Frequency

Figure 3.1 - Pipebody Liquid Release Frequency
Table 3.2 - Liquid Release Reporting Criteria
Organization Liquid Release Reporting Requirements
NEB Any unintended or uncontained release of liquid hydrocarbons in excess of 1.5 cubic metres.
PHMSA Loss of 8 or more cubic metres or where property damage costs exceed $50,000 USD, or after 7 February 2002: a release of 5 gallons (19 litres) or more.
CONCAWE The minimum spill size has been set at 1 m³ for reporting purposes unless there are exceptional serious safety/environmental consequences as a result of a 1 m³ spill.

NEB-regulated pipelines have had fewer pipebody liquid releases than in other jurisdictions in every year except 2006 and 2007. This may be due, in part, to the higher frequency of pipeline contacts by third parties experienced by PHMSA. In 2008, NEB-regulated companies did not report any pipebody liquid releases. CONCAWE data for the 2009 calendar year were not available at the time of this comparison.

3.3 Liquid Release Volume Comparisons

A single large rupture or break can significantly impact the liquid release volume performance indicator. This is particularly evident in Figure 3.2 where in 2001, large events caused this indicator’s upper range to be in excess of 200 m³ per 1 000 km of liquid pipelines. As previously mentioned, a NEB-regulated facility reported a major release in 2009, resulting in an increase in reported volume. CONCAWE data for the 2009 calendar year were not available at the time of this comparison.

Figure 3.2 - Pipebody Liquid Release Volume

Figure 3.2 - Pipebody Liquid Release Volume

3.4 Operational Liquid Leaks

Operational leaks on liquid pipelines are hydrocarbon product leaks which originate from pipeline components such as flanges, valves, pumps or storage tanks and exclude leaks from pipebodies. These leaks are often contained within fenced pipeline facilities which may have a secondary containment mechanism. Most of these leaks are less than 1.5 m³ in volume as shown in Table 3.3.

Table 3.3 - Pipeline Operational Leaks
Year Number
of Leaks
(≤1.5 m³)
of Leaks
(>1.5 m³)
of Leaks
Total Leak
2000 42 2 44 102
2001 15 4 19 279
2002 38 9 47 1184
2003 43 1 44 13
2004 57 5 62 34
2005 48 3 51 1269
2006 25 7 32 322
2007 26 4 30 129
2008 25 6 31 186
2009 47 4 51 226

Large liquid leaks occurred in 2002 at a pump station (1 075 m³) and in 2005 at an oil terminal (950 m³). These incidents resulted in a high total leak volume for those years. On average, approximately 40 operational leaks per year are reported on NEB-regulated pipeline systems. Much like pipebody releases, a single large leak from pipeline components can have a significant impact on the total annual leak volume. No reference organization publishes an operational liquid leak frequency comparable to that of the NEB.

The ten-year average for the frequency of liquid leaks from non-pipebody sources is approximately three leaks per 1 000 km of pipeline. Figure 3.3 shows that in 2009, the frequency increased over levels reported since 2006.

Figure 3.3 - Pipeline Operational Liquid Leak Frequency

Figure 3.3 - Pipeline Operational Liquid Leak Frequency

3.5 Non-Pipeline Liquid Spills

Liquid spills are associated with pipeline construction, maintenance and operations on both liquid and gas pipelines. These spills include small volumes of hydraulic oil, lubrication oil, valve operator fluids or equipment fuels, but exclude product leaks from liquid pipeline systems. The number and volume of these spills are shown in Table 3.4.

Table 3.4 - Non-Pipeline Liquid Spills
Year Number
of Spills
(≤1.5 m³)
of Spills
(>1.5 m³)
of Spills
Total Spill
2000 227 0 227 16
2001 28 1 29 3
2002 25 0 25 2
2003 48 1 49 5
2004 64 1 65 4
2005 47 1 48 12
2006 125 0 125 3
2007 36 0 36 2
2008 16 3 19 15
2009 18 1 19 5

High levels of construction activity in 2000 resulted in a significant number of reported spills. Overall, the average volume per spill is small, with the nine year average being 0.2 m³ per spill. The number of spills was lower than average for 2008 with only 19 spills; however, reported volume saw an increase to 15 m³.

3.6 Gas Releases and Operational Gas Leaks

Gas releases are the result of pipebody failures and include both ruptures and leaks from the body of the pipe. Operational gas leaks occur through equipment, including venting from valves and seepage at flanges through gaskets.

The data in Table 3.5 do not include intentional releases of gas such as planned blowdowns. All unplanned, unintended or uncontrolled gas leaks from NEB-regulated pipelines must be reported as there is no minimum reportable volume.

Table 3.5 - Pipeline Gas Releases and Leaks
Year Pipe Body
Gas Releases
Operational Pipeline
Gas Leaks
2000 1 24
2001 1 23
2002 2 11
2003 0 11
2004 4 19
2005 4 18
2006 1 22
2007 3 58
2008 6 30
2009 7 50

3.7 Gas Release Frequency Comparison

The Board compares the frequency of gas releases from NEB-regulated gas pipelines with EGIGregulated gas pipelines in Figure 3.4. The gas release reporting criteria for EGIG and the NEB are summarized in Table 3.6. Note that neither 2008 or 2009 EGIG data were available at the time of this comparison.

Figure 3.4 - Pipebody Gas Release Frequency

Figure 3.4 - Pipebody Gas Release Frequency
Table 3.6 - Gas Release Reporting Criteria
Organization Gas Release Reporting Requirements
NEB Any unintended or uncontrolled release of natural gas.
EGIG Any unintentional release of gas which occurs on an onshore pipeline operating at greater than 1500 kPa outside of the fenced boundaries of installations and excluding all components except the pipe.

The ten-year average of the gas pipeline release frequency for NEB-regulated pipelines was approximately 0.1 releases per 1 000 km or approximately one gas release per 10 000 km. Until 2007, NEB gas release frequencies were lower than EGIG frequencies. The NEB-regulated pipeline release frequency for 2009 was 0.15 per 1 000 km, a reduction of 63 per cent from the previous year.

3.8 Operational Gas Leak Frequency

As with liquid leaks, an operational gas leak is any product leak associated with pipeline operations which originates from pipeline components such as flanges, valves, compressors or storage tanks. There were approximately 0.9 operational gas leaks per 1 000 km on NEB-regulated gas pipelines in 2009.

Due to the differences in reporting requirements for gas leaks between the NEB and other agencies, no comparison is made for operational leaks. The frequency of operational gas leaks on NEB-regulated gas pipelines is shown in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5 - Operation Gas Leak Frequency

Figure 3.5 - Operational Gas Leak Frequency

4. NEB-Regulated Pipeline Performance Indicator Summary

In summary, reporting by pipeline companies for 2009 showed that several performance indicators have improved since 2008. Table 4.1 shows a summary of performance indicators from the previous two years. In particular, injury frequencies for both contractors and employees improved in 2009.

From an environmental protection perspective, liquid releases have increased over the last year and in many instances increased above the ten-year average. As well, five natural gas pipeline ruptures in 2009 are cause for concern.

Table 4.1 - NEB-Regulated Pipeline Performance Indicator Summary
Performance Indicator 2008 2009 Historical
Number of Fatalities
(employee, contractor and third party)
2 0 0.2
Worker Injury Frequency
(injuries per 200 000 hours)
1.0 0.5 1.1
Contractor Injury Frequency
(injuries per 200 000 hours)
1.2 0.5 2.0
Employee Injury Frequency
(injuries per 200 000 hours)
0.7 0.6 0.7
Liquid Pipeline Worker Injury Frequency
(injuries per 200 000 hours)
1.4 0.5 1.4
Gas Pipeline Worker Injury Frequency
(injuries per 200 000 hours)
0.6 0.7 1.0
Total Number of Pipeline Ruptures 0.0 5 1.9
Total Number of Pipeline Contacts 0 0 1.5
Pipe Body Liquid Release Frequency
(liquid releases per 1 000 km)
0.0 0.1 0.1
Pipe Body Liquid Release Volume Frequency
(m³ of liquid released per 1 000 km)
0.0 86.1 41.8
Number of Operational Liquid Leaks 31 51 41.8
Operational Liquid Leak Frequency
(number of leaks per 1 000 km)
2 4 2.8
Pipe Body Gas Release Frequency
(number of gas releases per 1 000 km gas pipelines)
0.2 0.1 0.1
Number of Operational Gas Leaks
(on gas pipelines)
30 50 26.6
Operational Gas Leak Frequency
(number of leaks per 1 000 km gas pipelines)
1.2 1.0 0.9
Number of Non-pipeline Spills
(construction and maintenance liquid spills)
19 19 19.0
Total Number of Incidents
(reportable under the OPR-99)
56 83 45.1

5. Looking Ahead

Protecting the environment and the safety of the public and the people who build and operate pipelines is of paramount importance to the NEB. Injury frequencies, incident trends and other indicators help the NEB to identify where improvement is needed.

Due to the Board’s ongoing concern about major incidents and incident frequencies along its regulated pipelines, an initiative has been launched to approach incidents from a management systems perspective and to work to ensure that possible systemic issues are dealt with proactively. The Board also intends to clarify its expectations on management systems in the Onshore Pipeline Regulations - 1999 through a proposed amendment. This will assist companies to implement a systematic approach to reducing safety and environmental incidents.

The Board is committed to finding ways to improve the safety performance of the pipeline industry. The NEB’s goal is to reduce the number of incidents and injuries to as low a level as possible. In 2009, the NEB continued to employ a risk-informed approach to determine the degree of regulatory oversight required for its regulated companies. This approach allows the NEB to focus compliance resources on companies that will benefit the most from regulatory oversight. As a result, NEB staff conducted 211 compliance activities in 2010.

Only continuous improvement will help ensure that pipelines remain the safest mode of energy transportation in Canada. Safety and environmental protection are of paramount importance to the NEB.

Appendix One - Pipeline Performance Indicator Data

Performance Indicator data from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2009 were submitted voluntarily to the NEB from companies owning or operating approximately 87 per cent of the total length of pipelines regulated by the NEB under the National Energy Board Act. Companies typically report on all NEB-regulated pipelines systems that they own. The following tables provide raw data, as provided by respondents, on pipeline length, worker hours and injuries. In addition, reference organization data on pipeline lengths and injury frequency are listed here.

Table A1.1 - Companies Reporting Performance Indicator Data for 2009

6720471 Canada Ltd.
Alliance Pipeline Ltd.
AltaGas Ltd.
BP Canada Energy Company
Canadian-Montana Pipe Line Corporation
Crescent Point Energy
Devon Canada Corporation
Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc.
Enbridge Pipelines (Westspur) Inc.
Enbridge Pipelines Inc.
Kaiser Exploration Ltd.

Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.
Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline
Montreal Pipe Line Limited
Murphy Oil Company Ltd.
St. Clair Pipelines Management Inc.
TransCanada Pipeline Limited
TransCanada Pipeline Limited (Keystone)
Trans- Northern Pipelines Inc.
Union Gas Limited
Vector Pipeline Limited
Partnership Westcoast Energy Inc. (carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission)
Table A1.2 - NEB-Regulated Pipeline Kilometres
Year Number of Kilometres
Reported Under
Voluntary Initiative
2000 39 193 42 919
2001 42 674 42 968
2002 41 555 43 124
2003 42 189 43 252
2004 41 386 43 371
2005 41 270 43 440
2006 41 454 43 530
2007 40 642 43 734
2008 40 760 46 732
2009 62 607 71 732
Table A1.3 - Pipeline Contractor and Employee Injury Frequency Raw Data
Year Contractor
2000 6 255 390 7 034 954 55 6
2001 1 606 271 4 827 678 40 18
2002 1 357 577 5 103 983 13 4
2003 788 466 4 869 253 12 16
2004 1 573 743 4 722 044 9 12
2005 1 218 350 4 925 620 7 15
2006 2 140 650 3 811 330 28 29
2007 2 918 420 2 850 195 33 22
2008 12 432 795 6 745 368 72 23
2009 26 977 740 5 589 987 71 16
Table A1.4 - Gas and Liquid Pipeline Worker Hours
Year Liquid Pipeline Gas Pipeline Total
2000 1 124 735 12 165 609 13 290 344
2001 1 808 947 4 625 003 6 433 950
2002 1 822 637 4 638 923 6 461 560
2003 1 655 670 4 002 049 5 657 719
2004 1 615 406 4 680 381 6 295 787
2005 1 398 649 4 745 321 6 143 969
2006 1 625 244 4 326 736 5 951 979
2007 2 707 357 3 061 257 5 768 614
2008 9 949 629 9 228 533 19 178 162
2009 22 770 639 9 797 088 32 537 727
Table A1.5 - Reference Organization Pipeline Lengths
Year Organization Kilometres
of Gas
of Hydrocarbon
Liquid Pipeline
2000 NEB 25974 13219 39193
2000 PHMSA 469946 257440 727386
2000 CONCAWE 0 30800 30800
2000 EGIG 110236 0 110236
2001 NEB 26509 16165 42674
2001 PHMSA 455862 255437 711299
2001 CONCAWE 0 35575 35575
2001 EGIG 110236 0 110236
2002 NEB 26752 14803 41555
2002 PHMSA 475538 258672 734210
2002 CONCAWE 0 35592 35592
2002 EGIG 109524 0 109524
2003 NEB 26943 15245 42189
2003 PHMSA 472877 255219 728096
2003 CONCAWE 0 36422 36422
2003 EGIG 114285 0 114285
2004 NEB 26374 15012 41386
2004 PHMSA 475165 253403 728568
2004 CONCAWE 0 35383 35383
2004 EGIG 122168 0 122168
2005 NEB 27002 14269 41270
2005 PHMSA 471693 252598 724291
2005 CONCAWE 0 34826 34826
2005 EGIG 122500 0 122500
2006 NEB 25888 15566 41454
2006 PHMSA 469990 252530 722520
2006 CONCAWE 0 35390 35390
2006 EGIG 125000 0 125000
2007 NEB 26275 14368 40642
2007 PHMSA 471949 257534 729483
2007 CONCAWE 0 34700 34700
2007 EGIG 129719 0 129719
2008 NEB 25071 15715 40786
2008 PHMSA 475835 262867 738702
2008 CONCAWE 0 35486 35486
2008 EGIG not available not available not available
2009 NEB 48165 14442 62607
2009 PHMSA 473963 267342 741306
2009 CONCAWE not available not available not available
2009 EGIG not available not available not available
Table A1.6 - Reference Organization Injury Frequency Data
Year Source Contractor
2000 NEB 1.76 0.17 0.92
2000 HRSDC not available 0.51 not available
2000 CAPP 3.13 1.05 2.49
2001 NEB 4.98 0.75 1.80
2001 HRSDC not available 0.56 not available
2001 CAPP 2.61 0.89 2.06
2002 NEB 1.92 0.16 0.53
2002 HRSDC not available 0.30 not available
2002 CAPP 1.86 1.02 1.64
2003 NEB 3.04 0.66 0.99
2003 HRSDC not available 0.33 not available
2003 CAPP 2.15 1.34 1.80
2004 NEB 1.14 0.51 0.67
2004 HRSDC not available 0.42 not available
2004 CAPP 1.90 1.00 1.64
2005 NEB 1.15 0.61 0.72
2005 HRSDC not available 0.32 not available
2005 CAPP 1.74 0.95 1.52
2006 NEB 1.59 1.52 1.55
2006 HRSDC not available 0.34 not available
2006 CAPP 1.74 0.83 1.48
2007 NEB 2.26 1.54 1.91
2007 HRSDC not available 0.32 not available
2007 CAPP 1.31 0.80 1.15
2008 NEB 1.16 0.68 0.99
2008 HRSDC not available not available not available
2008 CAPP 1.25 0.64 1.08
2009 NEB 0.53 0.57 0.99
2009 HRSDC not available not available not available
2009 CAPP not available not available not available

Data Sources

2009 CAPP Stewardship Report, published by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer in January 2010.

Performance of European cross-country oil pipelines - Statistical summary of reported spillages in 2008 since 1971, CONCAWE Report no. 4/10, published June 2010.

7th EGIG Report, 1970-2007 Gas Pipeline Incidents, Document No. EGIG 08.TV-B.0502 published in December 2008.

ERCB Provincial Surveillance and Compliance Summary 2009, ST5799-2010, published August 2010.

Occupational Injuries Among Canadian Employers Under Federal Jurisdiction, 2002-2007. Published by HRSDC.

All PHMSA data retrieved from data files available on

Information provided annually to the NEB through the Safety Performance Indicators Initiative.

From left to right: Pipeline welding, Frog, Pipeline construction
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