On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the National Energy Board (NEB) became the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). For further information please visit our Implementing the Canadian Energy Regulator Act information page

Fact Sheet: Pipeline Safety

Fact Sheet: Pipeline Safety [PDF 449 KB]




NEB-regulated pipelines moved over a billion barrels of liquid products

That’s enough to fill over 44 billion cars with fuel

Canada’s vast network of pipelines transports millions of litres of oil and gas under our feet every day. Canadians continue to work to find new ways to create energy, but for now, pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move large volumes of products across our huge country and beyond.

It is the National Energy Board’s (NEB) job to make sure companies are doing what it takes to keep their pipelines safe. Our job starts before a pipeline is even built by reviewing the project application to make sure the project is needed and can be done safely. But we do not simply make a decision on a project and then walk away. We oversee safety for the full lifecycle – from construction and operation to the end of its use. We work alongside communities with the goal of making energy infrastructure the very safest it can be.

The NEB has strict safety requirements companies must follow in order to operate their pipelines. These requirements touch on everything from the type of materials used to build a pipeline, to the steps that should be taken to protect people and the environment. When companies follow our rules, which are designed to identify hazards and manage risk, pipelines are a safe and reliable way to move oil and gas.

We keep a watchful eye to make sure companies are following the rules by doing inspections, along with in-depth safety audits. We also meet with companies on specific technical concerns and evaluate their readiness for emergencies on a regular basis. This helps us identify potential issues before they become problems.

Ultimately, it is the company’s responsibility to keep their pipelines safe. Companies are expected to have a target of zero spills. We hold them accountable for how well they do this. The NEB recognizes the products being moved in pipelines can be dangerous if not handled properly. This is why companies must identify anything that could possibly go wrong and come up with a plan and specific activities to prevent it from ever happening.

Although steel pipelines are extremely resilient, proper maintenance and inspection is critical so they stay safe over time. Companies are required to monitor their pipelines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They must inspect the pipeline regularly and conduct investigative digs to check on the condition of the pipe beneath the soil. In addition, companies use extremely sophisticated tools that look inside the pipeline to find any issues that could lead to problems.

The NEB also expects companies to develop something we call Safety Culture. This means more than preventing injuries. It means managing every aspect of business that could affect safety and the environment – from hiring and budgets to what a company decides its business priorities will be. When a company has a strong Safety Culture, everyone, no matter what job they do, is empowered to make important decisions on safety. Those actions will not just be supported but rewarded by their leaders.

In spite of all of this, sometimes companies do not do what they are supposed to. When this happens, we take action. We have been given powerful tools designed to get the company back on track and discourage them from making the same mistakes again. This could include issuing cash fines, lowering the amount of product they are allowed to move through their pipelines or shutting them down completely. No matter what action we take, the goal is always the same, keep the pipelines safe.

The NEB is a highly skilled team made up of engineers, auditors, inspectors, emergency responders, engagement staff, lawyers and others. We are fiercely proud of the work we do protecting the interests of Canadians. We know our work makes a difference in keeping energy infrastructure safe and reliable. We will continue working to make it even safer.

Boots On the Ground

NEB Inspectors performed 142 inspections in 2015 on key aspects of pipeline safety. In addition, they completed

NEB Inspectors performed 169 inspections in 2013 on key aspects of pipeline safety

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NEB Inspectors performed 142 inspections in 2015 on key aspects of pipeline safety. In addition, they completed

Emergency Exercises: 20
Emergency Procedures Manual Reviews: 13
Compliance Meetings: 137
Audit: 6
Report Reviews: 30

2016 Compliance Activities

2013 Compliance Activities

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Facility Lifecycle and NEB tools and activities

  • Facility Lifecycle
  • NEB tools and activities
  • Company's Planning and Pre-Application
    • Information Requirements (Filing Manual)
    • Pre-application meetings
  • Application Assessment and/or Public Hearing
    • Environmental & socio-economic assessment
    • Conditions on approval
  • Construction and Post Construction
    • Ensure condition compliance
    • Inspections
    • Ensure condition compliance
  • Operations and Maintenance
    • Audits
    • Inspections
    • Incident inspection
  • Abandonment
    • Environmental & socio-economic assessment
    • Conditions on approval
    • Inspections
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