Guidance Notes for the Decommissioning Provisions under the Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR)

Amendments to the Guidance Notes for the Decommissioning Provisions under the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR) and National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations (PPR) and NEB Filing Manual (FM) to clarify and include requirements on decommissioning [PDF 72 KB]

File Ad-GA-ActsLeg-Fed-NEBA-RRG-0201
5 December 2014

To: All Interested Parties

Amendments to the Guidance Notes for the Decommissioning Provisions under the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR) and National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations (PPR) and NEB Filing Manual (FM) to clarify and include requirements on decommissioning

The National Energy Board (the Board) has issued the attached Information Advisory regarding the updated OPR and PPR guidance and FM requirements on decommissioning activities and applications. The Board expects that this Information Advisory is given wide circulation to all relevant personnel within your organization.

If you have any questions concerning the guidance requirements, please contact Kurt McAllister, Director, at 403-292-4800.

Yours truly,

Secretary of the Board
Sheri Young

Attachment


National Energy Board Information Advisory

Updates to OPR and PPR Decommissioning Guidance Notes
and New Decommissioning Filing Manual Requirements

Purpose
To clarify decommissioning activities and applications, the Board has updated the Filing Manual by the addition of specific requirements for decommissioning applications and amended the guidance notes on decommissioning in the OPR and PPR. The Board has additionally included a reference under the abandonment requirements section directing companies to review the engineering activities located under the decommissioning requirements before submitting an abandonment application so as to confirm that all engineering activities have been met by the abandonment stage.

Expectations
The amendments only clarify an existing process. There are no related amendments to the OPR or PPR or additional consequential amendments to the Filing Manual or any other related processes.

For More Information
For more information, please refer to the Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR), Processing Plant Regulations (PPR) guidance notes and/or the Filing Manual decommissioning requirements in Guide K. If you have any questions, please contact Kurt McAllister, Director, at 403-292-4800.


Guidance Notes for the Decommissioning Provisions
under the Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR)

Definitions

"decommission" means to permanently cease operation such that the cessation does not result in the discontinuance of service.

"operate" includes repair, maintain, deactivate, reactivate and decommission.

Decommissioning Provisions

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 Board.

(2) The company shall include in the application the reasons, and the procedures that are to be used, for the decommissioning.

GOAL (s. 45.1): To ensure that decommissioning of a pipeline, or part of a pipeline, is carried out in a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible manner that respects the rights of those affected.

Decommissioning may be required when a company ceases operation of a pipeline or part of one, but the same level of service continues as a result of other lines in the system (e.g. looped lines within a common right-of-way). Service is defined as the ability of a pipeline, as a whole, to transport hydrocarbons to an end point. For example, if a company ceases operation of one line in a series of looped lines (collectively the pipeline) and it is no longer being used to transport hydrocarbons, this would often be considered a decommissioning because, as a whole, the other lines are still able to transport hydrocarbons and provide the same level of service. The Board acknowledges, however, that decommissioning relief may be appropriate in other contexts. Other examples of decommissioning could include, but would not be limited to:

  • If Pipeline ‘A’ in a right of way corridor ceases operation without a discontinuance of service, and there are other pipelines (either one or more companies and/or one or more jurisdictions) in the same corridor, Pipeline ‘A’ may need to remain in a decommissioned state, so as not to impact the remaining operating pipelines until all are ready for abandonment.
  • Within a company’s facilities (e.g., meter stations, pump stations, terminals, etc), there may be a need to cease operation of a portion of a particular facility, without discontinuance of service, until the entire facility can be abandoned in the future.
  • There may be a need to relocate a pipeline or facility to accommodate a public work project (e.g. roads, electrical facilities, etc.).

All decommissioned pipelines will require an application to the Board for abandonment when the circumstances allow for the physical activities related to abandonment. The Board expects that companies will continue to monitor decommissioned pipelines and consult with affected parties during the decommissioning period. A public hearing must be held for abandonment applications. The Board has authority to hold a hearing for a decommissioning application if it considers it advisable to do so.

The requirement for companies to seek approval to decommission facilities allows the Board to assess the socio-economic, environmental and financial effects of the proposed projects and in order to promote to the fullest extent, the safe operation of other pipelines or facilities that continue to operate nearby. If 40 km or more of pipe will be removed from the ground, a decommissioning application will require an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environment Assessment Act, 2012.

Companies should consult the guidance material under the Filing Manual Guide K Decommissioning and section 45.1 of the OPR, Decommissioning.

Guidance Notes for the Decommissioning Provisions
under the National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations (PPR)

Definitions

"decommission" means to permanently cease operation such that the cessation does not result in the discontinuance of service.

"operate" includes repair, maintain, deactivate, reactivate and decommission.

Decommissioning Provisions

43.1(1) If a company proposes to decommission a processing plant or part of one, the company shall submit an application for the decommissioning to the Board.

(2) The company shall include in the application the reasons, and the procedures that are to be used, for the decommissioning.

GOAL (s. 43.1): To ensure that decommissioning of a processing plant, or part of one, is carried out in a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible manner.

Decommissioning is intended to capture the permanent cessation of operation of a processing plant or part of one that does not result in a discontinuance of service.

All decommissioned facilities will require an application to the Board for abandonment when the circumstances allow for the physical activities related to abandonment. The Board expects that companies will continue to monitor decommissioned facilities and consult with affected parties during the decommissioning period. A public hearing must be held for abandonment applications. The Board has authority to hold a hearing for a decommissioning application if it considers it advisable to do so.

The requirement for companies to seek approval to decommission facilities would allow the Board to examine the application to promote to the fullest extent the continued safe operation of the processing plant and assess the socio-economic, environmental and financial effects of the proposed projects and promote to the fullest extent, the safe operation of facilities that continue to operate nearby.

Companies should consult the guidance material under the Filing Manual Guide K Decommissioning and section 43.1 of the PPR.

Exemption Order for Decommissioning Projects
under the Onshore Pipeline Regulation and
National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations

Exemption Order XO/XG-100-2008

IN THE MATTER OF the National Energy Board Act and the regulations made thereunder; and

IN THE MATTER OF section 45.1 of the Onshore Pipeline Regulations and section 43.1 of the National Energy Board Procession Plant Regulations; and

IN THE MATTER OF a National Energy Board initiative regarding exemptions in respect of the decommissioning of specified pipeline facilities under its jurisdiction pursuant to section 18 and subsection 48(2.1) of the National Energy Board Act.

BEFORE the Board on 12 June 2008.

WHEREAS section 45.1 of the Onshore Pipeline Regulations and section 43.1 of the National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations require an application for the decommissioning of a pipeline or processing plant (or part of either);

AND WHEREAS the Board is satisfied the projects that can be decommissioned according to the criteria set out in Schedule A are routine in nature for oil and gas pipelines or processing plants for which an order or certificate has been issued by the Board; or which was exempt from the requirements of filing under the Operations and Maintenance Activities on Pipelines Regulated Under the National Energy Board Act or section 58 Streamlining Order and are not related to commodity pipelines or to pipelines transporting sulphur or sulphur compounds for sale or disposal beyond the property limits of a gas plant;

AND WHEREAS the decommissioning projects according to the criteria set out in Schedule A are not subject to environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;

AND WHEREAS the Board has considered environmental matters related to the projects exempted according to the criteria set out in Schedule A pursuant to Part III of the National Energy Board Act and is satisfied that there will be no adverse environmental effects;

AND WHEREAS the decommissioning projects according to the criteria set out in Schedule A are conducted in accordance with applicable regulations made pursuant to the National Energy Board Act;

AND WHEREAS the Board is satisfied that the decommissioning projects according to the criteria set out in Schedule A would not likely affect the interests of persons other than those to which the respective order or certificate was issued;

IT IS ORDERED pursuant to section 18 and subsection 48(2.1) of the National Energy Board Act that the decommissioning projects listed according to the criteria set out in Schedule A, attached to and forming part of this Order are exempt from the requirement of filing an application for decommissioning, upon the following conditions:

  1. Unless the Board otherwise directs, pipeline companies and persons under the Board's jurisdiction shall, for those projects satisfying the criteria set out in Schedule A::
    1. Advise the Board in writing 10 business days prior to the decommissioning of any planned projects on the eligible projects list (Step 1 of Schedule A) for which the anticipated expenditure is greater than $1,000,000. Such reports must include a statement describing the project(s), including locations(s), and the estimated cost;
    2. Report annually, on or before 31 March of each year, all decommissioning projects commenced pursuant to this Order, as well as the total number and total cost of the listed projects; and
    3. Report immediately, in writing, to the Board on any air, soil or surface/ground water contaminants, or any hazardous wastes, as defined in section 2 of the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, that are found during activities related to the decommissioning of the project(s), and provide a detailed description of the proposed containment, handling and/or disposal methods.
  2. Unless the Board otherwise directs, this Order shall expire in respect of the decommissioning of any specific project on 31 December in the year following the date on which the work related to the project has commenced.

NATIONAL ENERGY BOARD

Claudine Dutil-Berry
Secretary

Attachment (Schedule A)

Exemption Order for Decommissioning Projects
under the Onshore Pipeline Regulations and
National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations

Schedule A
Process for Identifying Projects Subject to
Exemption Order XO/XG-100-2008

Preface

Schedule A is to be used to determine whether a project under the Act is subject to Exemption Order XG-XO-100-2008 (the Order), in which case, an application to the Board is not required.

Copies of Schedule A are not required to be physically completed, filed, or retained for those projects undertaken pursuant to the Order. However, companies and persons may be required, either upon request of the Board or during a Board audit, to demonstrate that projects undertaken pursuant to the Order were properly subject to this Order.

In determining whether a project under the Act is subject to Exemption Order XG-XO-100-2008, companies shall ensure that the project is within the list of eligible projects listed in Step 1.

It is important to note the following:

  • The Order only applies to projects related to the decommissioning of an existing oil or gas pipeline or processing plant for which a Board certificate or order is in place or which was exempt from the requirements of filing under the Operations and Maintenance Activities on Pipelines Regulated Under the National Energy Board Act or the section 58 Streamlining Order and does not apply to commodity pipelines or those pipelines transporting sulphur or sulphur compounds beyond the property limits of a gas plant for sale or disposal;
  • Projects which are captured under the Order may also be subject to other regulatory requirements which are not within the purview of the Board and it is incumbent upon the applicant to be aware of and comply with these requirements; and
  • For projects listed in Step 1, the Order applies only if the project(s) required meet ALL of the criteria set out in Steps 2 and 3 of Schedule A.

Schedule A

STEP 1: ELIGIBLE PROJECTS
1.1 The proposed project meets the requirements of the Operations and Maintenance Activities on Pipelines Regulated Under the National Energy Board Act;
1.2 The proposed project meets the requirements of the section 58 Streamlining Order;
1.3 Existing service, overall pipeline system capacity and processing plant capacity will remain unchanged.
NO
An application pursuant to Onshore Pipeline Regulations section 45.1 or National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations section 43.1 will be required, please refer to respective Guidance Notes

If YES to ANY criteria in Step 1

   
STEP 2: THIRD PARTY INTERESTS AND LAND CONSIDERATIONS
2.1 Any concerns identified by shippers have been resolved (e.g. increase in toll, access to transportation services, impacts on service);
2.2 Public concerns about local nuisance potential (e.g. noise, odours, traffic) have been resolved; and,
2.3 Located on existing company-owned or leased land.
If NO to ANY criteria in Step 2
An application pursuant to Onshore Pipeline Regulation section 45.1 or National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations section 43.1 will be required, please refer to respective Guidance Notes
If YES to ALL criteria in Step 2
   
STEP 3: ENGINEERING CONSIDERATIONS
3.1 The project would not involve an increase in operating pressure; and,
3.2 The project would not involve a decrease in storage capacity.
If NO to ANY criteria in Step 3
An application pursuant to Onshore Pipeline Regulations section 45.1 or National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations section 43.1 will be required, please refer to respective Guidance Notes
If YES to ALL criteria in Step 3
   
The Exemption Order applies    
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