Filing Manual – Guide K – Decommissioning (section 45.1 of the OPR)

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K.1 Decommissioning a Pipeline

Section 45.1 of the OPR states:

  • 45.1 (1) If a company proposes to decommission a pipeline or part of one, the company shall submit an application for the decommissioning to the Commission.
  • (2) The company shall include in the application the reasons, and the procedures that are to be used, for the decommissioning.


The application includes the rationale for decommissioning, the method(s) of decommissioning, and the measures to be employed as well as evidence that:

  • the proposed decommissioning will be carried out in a safe manner;
  • potential environmental, socio-economic, lands, economic and financial effects are identified; and
  • sufficient notification has been given to all owners and users of lands, including landowners, Indigenous communities, and other persons who anticipate that their lands are/may be potentially affected.

Filing Requirements


Provide the following:

  1. A complete description of the pipeline(s) and facility(ies) being decommissioned. For pipelines, this must include, but not be limited to, the history of products carried, length, diameter, wall thickness and coating type. Companies should consider any other information that is relevant to the pipeline(s) and facility(ies), and its operation that would assist the Commission in assessing the decommissioning application.
  2. Reasons for decommissioning of the pipeline(s) and facility(ies), including a description of any adjacent pipeline(s) and facility(ies) that are impediments to abandonment. See s. 3.2 and s. 3.5 of the Filing Manual.
  3. Appropriately scaled map(s) or site plan(s) which show the locations and dimensions of the pipeline right of way and the facility(ies) to be decommissioned.
  4. The digital location data of pipeline segment(s) and facility(ies) to be decommissioned. The data should accurately represent the location of pipeline segments and right-of-way, or facility footprint and it can be derived from any available sources.
  5. A description of known temporary work space required for decommissioning activities, including location and dimensions.
  6. Photomosaic maps or alignment sheet(s) which show the pipeline right of way and facility(ies) overlain on satellite or aerial imagery and any areas of temporary work space. If not available, provide photographs showing the pipeline right of way and facilities.
  7. Indicate whether any service would be terminated as a result of the proposed decommissioning. If a commercial party or other user could be negatively impacted by the termination of service, provide evidence that:
    1. a) the Company has been responsive to the needs, inputs, and concerns of commercial parties or other users;
    2. b) the estimated relative impacts to all parties from the decommissioning of the facilities versus discontinuation of service have been considered;
    3. c) alternatives to the decommissioning of the facilities were considered (including physical and tolling alternatives) and that decommissioning is the optimal outcome; and
    4. d) impacted parties will be able to wait until after the Commission issues its decision on the application to make any potentially costly, irreversible choices necessary to continue their business operations after any approved decommissioning activities have begun. If this is not the case, provide evidence justifying why not.
  8. An explanation of the decommissioning method options (decommissioning in-place, removal, segmentation, fill) considered, and rationale for the chosen option(s), including how factors such as current and future land use, safety, effects on the rights of Indigenous peoples, how individuals and communities may be affected by the proposed decommissioning, property, land acquisition or lease agreements, impacted and potentially impacted engineered structuresFootnote1, environment and economics were identified, considered and managed.
  9. A description of the proposed physical activities to be carried out to decommission the pipeline(s) and facility(ies).
  10. Proposed schedule for the various decommissioning activities, including any reclamation, to be conducted.
  11. A monitoring plan which describes the type, frequency and duration of monitoring to be conducted of the pipeline(s) and facility(ies) that will remain in place. This plan should include considerations for maintaining depth of cover and potential environmental and socio-economic risks of the decommissioned pipeline and facility(ies) remaining in-place (e.g., water conduit, subsidence and pipe exposure), as informed by the company's environmental and socio-economic assessment and engagement activities.
  12. Provide the anticipated timing of future abandonment activities for each pipeline and facility being decommissioned, if known.

Guidance – General Requirements

Companies should demonstrate how they are planning for eventual abandonment of decommissioned pipeline(s) and facility(ies). An application for abandonment must be filed for all CER-regulated pipeline(s) and facility(ies) when they have reached their end of life, including those pipeline(s) and facility(ies) that have been previously decommissioned.

Refer to Guidance notes for the Decommissioning Provisions under the OPR in determining the circumstances under which a decommissioning application may be appropriate.

If the decommissioning activities are similar to the activities being undertaken at the time of the abandonment, refer to Guide B – Abandonment.

Refer to Guide B – Guidance – Economics and Finance in regards to termination of service.


Provide the following:

  1. For the pipeline(s) to be decommissioned, confirm the following, and provide an explanation of how the results were/will-be achieved and maintained:
    • no internal pressure remaining;
    • purged and cleaned and left in a state of minimal residual contamination, including the pipe cleaning plans, procedures or standards to be used;
    • left in a state where road, railway or utility crossings are not at significant and unmanaged risk of disturbance due to settlement;
    • a description of the potential soil subsidence, pipe exposure, water conduit, corrosion, and pipe collapse effects for pipelines to be decommissioned in place, and a plan to monitor these potential effects;
    • equipped with signage; and
    • a description of the fill material, if used, to be used for railway and road crossings, if applicable (abandonment in place with special treatment), including where along the pipeline fill material will be used and why.
  2. In the event that cathodic protection is not maintained, identify and justify if ground bed anodes will be removed or left in place.

Guidance – Engineering

  • Note, for the purposes of engineering related to decommissioning, the CER requires most of the same elements of abandonment under CSA Z662 and CSA Z341, as applicable.
  • The company should explain how the integrity of remaining engineered facilities and structures, regulated by the CER or not, will be impacted and those impacts managed while the decommissioned pipeline and/or facility remains in place.

Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment

  1. Describe the biophysical and socio-economic setting found at the project location. The description should indicate whether or not the proposed decommissioning is located on federal landsFootnote2.
  2. For the preferred decommissioning method, complete the environmental and socio-economic interactions (see Table K-1 of this guide), or provide an environmental and socio-economic assessment.
  3. Provide a copy of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment conducted for the pipeline right of way and associated facility(ies), as per the guidance in the most recent version of CSA Standard Z768. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment should identify all areas of existing and/or potential contamination, and include an evaluation of the status of any existing contamination currently documented or contamination previously remediated. Provide a list of previously reported contaminated sites within the pipeline right of way and associated facility(ies), including CER-assigned Remediation Event Number(s).
  4. If the results of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment indicate that a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is warranted, provide a copy of a Phase II plan that describes the procedures to be implemented for investigating all existing and/or potential contamination identified in the Phase I assessment, including sampling methodology. The Phase II assessment should be conducted per the guidance provided in the most recent version of CSA Standard Z769-00, Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.
  5. Provide an Environmental Protection Plan (EPP), or a description of the environmental protection procedures, mitigation measures, and commitments that will be implemented during the decommissioning activities, including remediation, reclamation, and reclamation monitoring activities to avoid or minimize potential adverse environmental and socio-economic effects. The level and detail of information should commensurate with the nature and scale of the project.
  6. Provide a monitoring plan outlining how the decommissioned pipeline(s) and facility(ies) will be monitored for the period of time between decommissioning and abandonment.

Guidance – Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment

  • As noted in section A.2.4 of the Filing Manual Level of Detail, the depth of analysis should be commensurate with the nature of the project and the potential for effects.
  • Refer to Tables A-2 and A-3 of the Filing Manual for the circumstances and interactions that lead to the need for detailed information.
  • While an Applicant's full environmental and socio-economic assessment is not required to be filed, it must still be prepared and may be requested at any time. It may be helpful to include the environmental and socio-economic assessment for applications where there are multiple or complex issues, or to provide clarity and efficiency in the review of an application.
  • For pipeline segments which are being proposed to be decommissioned in place, the following information should be considered in the assessments provided:
    • the potential environmental and socio-economic effects that may result from the decommissioning activities;
    • the potential environmental and socio-economic effects that may result from the decommissioned pipelines and facilities remaining in place in place over the long-term; and
    • the environmental and socio-economic risks of the decommissioned pipeline remaining in place (e.g., water conduit effect, pipeline exposure, ground subsidence) and the mitigation measures to be implemented to reduce those risks (e.g., segmentation, fill), including an explanation of how those measures will sufficiently reduce the risks identified.
  • The environmental and socio-economic assessment should include a discussion of means that were considered to reduce any potential greenhouse gas emissions of the project, and how the preferred option was chosen (for example, alternatives to venting gas).
  • The environmental and socio-economic assessment should discuss the effects of the proposed method of decommissioning on the rights of Indigenous peoples.
  • If cathodic protection systems are proposed to be decommissioned in place, the assessment should include consideration of the potential effects that may result from that infrastructure remaining in place over the long term (e.g., soil and groundwater contamination potential).
  • For pipelines proposed to be decommissioned in place, the assessment should include consideration of the potential risk to land and resource use (e.g., forestry, agriculture, urban development) over the long-term, and the mitigation measures that will be implemented to reduce those risks.
  • Once contamination has been confirmed by analytical testing, a notice of contamination must be submitted to the CER as soon as possible in accordance with the CER’s Remediation Process Guide.
  • Applicants are expected to prepare an EPP for all projects. While it is not a requirement for an EPP to be filed as part of an application, it must be available for review if requested or may be a condition of approval to be complied with before construction. Refer to Guide A.2.6.2 for more detail regarding EPPs.
  • The EPP, or the environmental protection procedures, should include a contingency plan to be implemented in the event that previously unidentified contamination is identified (including measures to be implemented in accordance with the CER’s Remediation Process Guide).


The CER expects applicants to perform engagement activities for all projects depending upon the respective project scope. Companies must justify the extent of engagement carried out for each project. In designing engagement activities, companies can refer to s. 3.4 and s. 3.5 of the Filing Manual.

  1. Provide a summary of the engagement activities undertaken with individuals and communities, which may be affected by the proposed decommissioning, including:
    • landowners;
    • land users;
    • Indigenous peoples;
    • occupants;
    • land managers (Crown);
    • federal, provincial or municipal agencies or levels of government;
    • shippers; and
    • other commercial third parties who could be affected by the project, including prospective future shippers.
  2. The summary of engagement should include, at minimum:
    • a description of any issues or concerns for each decommissioning method(s) identified;
    • how input from the engagement activities was considered in determining the proposed decommissioning method(s);
    • a description of how the applicant has addressed or will address any concerns or issues raised and when;
    • a description of any concerns or issues raised that will not be addressed and why; and
    • a description of any outstanding concerns, including how the applicant intends to address any outstanding concerns, or an explanation as to why no further steps will be taken.
  3. Provide notice to all individuals and communities which may be affected by the proposed decommissioning of the actual date of application filing, provided within 72 hours of filing the application with the CER, including information where to find the application and associated documents on the CER website.
  4. Provide a plan describing how consultation with affected individuals and communities will be maintained during the period of time between decommissioning and abandonment.


Describe any land rights proposed to be acquired for the decommissioning, including the location and dimensions of the land rights that have not already been acquired or leased (for example, temporary work space). Provide a description (for example in a table) of the land tenure along the right of way, including the approximate length of the pipeline segments that are located respectively along freehold, federal or provincial Crown land. For more information, refer to Guide A.4 of the Filing Manual.

Economics and Finance

Decommissioning Costs

Describe the methodology and assumptions used to estimate costs. Identify and describe any associated section 183 or 214 applications. Provide a level of detail and technical description appropriate to allow regulators, the public, and others to understand the estimates to a reasonable level.

As decommissioning is not the final stage in the lifecycle of a CER-regulated pipeline or facility, provide estimates of average annual future costs for any activities to be done after the decommissioning.

Provide estimates of:

  • any future costs, in current year dollars, associated with maintaining these facilities in a decommissioned state, up until the commencement of the final abandonment of these and nearby facilities.
  • the costs to complete the abandonment of these facilities, including recognition of costs of post abandonment activities (i.e., for any facilities proposed to be left in the ground, the costs of monitoring and contingent remediation of any discoveries of contamination or subsidence).

Explain if and how the estimate to abandon the entire pipeline system has been adjusted for the decommissioning of these facilities, and any related impact to the pipeline system’s total cost estimate for the abandonment of those facilities that remain.

For more information, refer to RH-2-2008 [Folder 557894], MH-001-2012 [Folder 918367], MH-001-2013 [Folder 2478727] and the 4 March 2010 Revisions to the Base Case [Folder 602633].

Liability Exposure

As decommissioning is not the final stage in the lifecycle of CER-regulated pipelines, the description of future liabilities should include:

  • the type of each liability and an estimate of the associated cost; and
  • a statement of which decommissioning work is associated with a legal obligation and which work is not.

Describe the methodology and assumptions used to estimate costs. Identify and describe any associated section 183 or 214 applications. Provide a level of detail and technical description appropriate to allow regulators, the public, and others to understand the estimates to a reasonable level.


Provide confirmation that funding is available for the decommissioning work, and funding will continue to be available to fund the future final abandonment, including updated description of any funding, financial guarantees or other arrangements designed to cover these costs.

If the pipeline will still be providing service to third party shippers, describe the expected toll treatment and toll impact, including:

  • an explanation of how the tolls were determined;
  • the expected impact, if any, on shippers and other parties; and
  • a statement regarding the extent of shippers' and other parties' support for any toll increase.

Explain how this decommissioning plan compares to the abandonment plan for these facilities or this site.


The GPUAR or OPUAR prescribe the accounting treatment for both ordinary and extraordinary retirements, including informing the CER if the gain or loss on an extraordinary retirement is material.

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K.2 Applications to Access Funds from the Trust to Fund Abandonment

Refer to Guide B, Abandonment, s. B.3 for information on accessing funds for decommissioning activities.

Next Steps...

Companies are encouraged to include the completed relevant checklists from Appendix 1.

Table K-1 – Environmental and Socio-Economics Interaction

Table K-1 – Environmental and Socio-Economics Interactions [WORD 18 KB]

Table K-1 – Environmental and Socio-Economics Interactions
Element Interaction (Yes or No) Description of Interaction(s) (if no interaction is predicted, provide justification) Status of element – specific study or survey (complete, underway, date expected, or underway) Description of potential effects Mitigation will be implemented to address potential adverse effects (Yes or No) Description of mitigation to be applied Description of residual effects after mitigation, including the spatial and temporal extent of the effects Specify if there will likely be an interaction between the predicted residual effects of the project and the effects of other projects or activities that have been or will be carried out (Yes or No). If Yes, describe the cumulative effects. Monitoring Plan and Details

Physical and Meteorological Environment










Soil and Soil Productivity




















Water Quality and Quantity










Fish and Fish Habitat




















Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat










Species at Risk, or Species of Special Status, and Related Habitat










Air Emissions










GHG Emissions










Acoustic Environment










Human Occupancy and Resource Use










Heritage Resources (both Crown and private lands)










Navigation and Navigation Safety










Indigenous Traditional Land and Resource Use










Socio and Cultural Well-Being










Human Health or Aesthetics










Infrastructure and Services










Employment and Economy










Rights of Indigenous peoples










Accidents and Malfunctions










Effects of the Environment on the Project










Other (please specify)










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