On June 19, 2016, the amendments under the Pipeline Safety Act (the
"Act"), which amend the damage
prevention provisions in the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act,
came into force. These amendments set out the specific obligations
of individuals and pipeline companies with respect to preventing
pipeline damage. Under the recent amendments, pipeline companies
must ensure that individuals know how to safely conduct activities
such as excavation and construction near pipelines, and individuals
planning to conduct activities near pipelines must report plans to
a one-call centre before beginning the activities. The amendments
pertain to absolute liability and financial resource requirements,
abandonment, pipeline releases, damage prevention, as well as audit
and enforcement powers. Some of the most noteworthy changes
resulting from the amendments include:
Pipeline companies with the capacity
to transport at least 250,000 barrels per day of oil will be liable
for all costs and damages for an unintended release, up to $1
billion, regardless of fault. The limits of absolute liability for
the remaining pipeline companies under the jurisdiction of the
National Energy Board ("NEB") will be
set by regulation.
The jurisdiction of the NEB has
expanded to include oversight of pipelines post-abandonment;
however, companies remain liable for post-abandonment costs and
damages. The NEB is also granted new powers for inspection
officers, and authority to assume control of an abandonment or
abandoned pipeline if a company is not complying with an NEB
In the event of a pipeline release,
the Governor in Council has been provided the authority to
"designate" a company if it either does not have the
ability to pay for the release or does not comply with a Board
order, and for the NEB to take over spill response.
Along with the amendments to the Act, the following regulations
have also come into force:
These regulations set out the obligations of pipeline companies
and individuals planning construction, ground disturbance
activities or crossings in the vicinity of an NEB-regulated
pipeline. Under the new regulations:
Pipeline companies operating a
pipeline within a geographical area where a one-call centre exists
are required to become members of that centre.
Individuals are required to contact a
one-call centre before engaging in an activity that would cause
ground disturbance in the vicinity of a pipeline.
Pipeline companies are required to
have a damage prevention program in place within their management
systems. Under a damage prevention program, a pipeline company is
required to maintain an ongoing public awareness program, monitor
land use and land ownership changes near a pipeline, and have
standards and processes for managing activity requests and
Individuals and pipeline companies
planning to conduct ground disturbance activities within the
prescribed area, defined as a strip of land measured 30 metres
perpendicularly on each side from the centreline of a pipe, must
meet the requirements outlined in the regulations.
In effect, these legislative changes mark an increase in
responsibility and liability on the part of pipeline companies and
individuals conducting activities near pipelines. As such,
individuals and pipeline companies should be mindful of these
recent amendments and take care to comply with the obligations set
out in the Act and accompanying regulations when undertaking
activities in proximity to NEB-regulated pipelines.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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