The National Energy Board (NEB) is proposing changes to three
regulations1 governing construction and excavation
activities around NEB-regulated pipelines, two of which have not
been updated since they came into effect in 1988. For context,
according to Alberta's Energy and Resources Conservation
Board, construction damage was the third most common cause of
pipeline failure in 20102 and was responsible for 9% of
pipeline incidents. The leading cause, at 47.3%, was internal
corrosion, followed by external corrosion at 11.2% (see Table 9 of
ST57- 2011: Field
Surveillance and Operations Branch Provincial Summary
Although the discussion paper does not address the topics that
are top of mind for many people concerned about pipeline
construction – such as the impact of climate change on the
structural integrity of pipelines and response times and protocols
following a spill – preventing construction and excavation
damage is also an important component of pipeline safety.
The NEB is currently seeking comments regarding an online
Discussion Paper. The Paper makes the following proposals
to ensure that anyone undertaking construction or excavation around
a pipeline does so safely:
3.1 Effective and Timely Communication – Call Before You
The Board proposes to require:
pipeline companies to be members of one-call centres, in
geographical areas with a centre and where the company has a
anyone planning construction or excavation near a pipeline to
provide notice to the pipeline company and make a locate request by
contacting a one-call centre where a centre is established, or the
3.2 Damage Prevention Programs with Management System
The Board proposes to require pipeline companies to have a
damage prevention program with a management system approach. Damage
prevention programs would include, among other things, ongoing
monitoring of the land use where the pipeline is located and land
next to the pipeline right of way; and a process to manage the
movement of vehicles across the pipeline.
3.3 Safe Work Practices for Construction and Excavation
The Board proposes to clarify the requirements for third parties
to: obtain a pipeline locate before construction or excavation
activities, employ safe work practices stipulated by the pipeline
company, follow instructions of an authorized company
representative, expose the pipe in a manner that does not have
potential to damage the pipe or its coating, report any contact
with a pipe to the pipeline company, and cease work where safety
3.4 Low Risk Crossing by Agricultural Vehicles
The Board proposes to revise the regulations to capture the
intent of the Agricultural Crossing Order.
The Order sets the low-risk conditions for farming vehicles and
equipment to cross NEB-regulated pipelines without the need for
permission from the pipeline company. It requires pipeline
companies to identify locations in agricultural areas where
agricultural vehicle crossings would have potential to damage the
pipeline, and to notify land users of those locations. For any such
locations, the landowner or land user must contact the pipeline
company to determine the specific crossing requirements.
The official deadline to submit written comments on the
discussion paper is
Monday, February 11, 2013, but it is often
worthwhile submitting comments even after the deadline, if extra
time is needed.
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