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Can landowners and pipeline companies be partners?

About Pipelines (CEPA) recently spoke with Dave Core, CAEPLA CEO and director of federally regulated projects

Published in September, 2017

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Pipelines cross through 119,000 km of land in Canada, and some of that land is privately owned. The farmers and ranchers who own this land work with pipeline operators during all phases of the pipeline life cycle – from planning to retirement.

We recently spoke with Dave Core, CEO and director of federally regulated projects for the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA) to get his perspective on the relationship between landowners and pipeline companies.

Q: What does CAEPLA do?

Dave: We advocate on behalf of farmers, ranchers and other rural property owners, promoting their property rights in dealing with energy and pipeline companies. We believe that development is a good thing, and we are there to help landowners negotiate mutually beneficial business arrangements, while protecting their family, business and land values.

Q: What does a ‘mutually beneficial business arrangement’ look like?

Dave: There are a variety of compensations for landowners that are offered by industry and are negotiated by CAEPLA. The ideal compensation is something every Canadian is familiar with – rent. That allows us to accommodate everything including rates, damage deposits, insurance and rules. And working together means we can hammer out details such as safety standards, environmental stewardship concerns, you name it.  It really is the solution and we believe that day is coming. CAEPLA would love to be the rental agents for industry and landlords. But the most important thing for landowners to recognize is that they also have to be a good landlord. That’s a “win, win” business agreement.

Q: What concerns do landowners have regarding pipelines on their land?

Dave: Most landowners would like to be consulted much earlier in the planning process than they currently are. That way their legitimate concerns can be addressed in a non-adversarial fashion. Although there are always going to be some landowners who do not want pipelines on their land, most are actually open to mutually beneficially arrangements. They just want to be treated as partners in the process.

Q: How are pipeline companies doing when it comes to relationships with landowners?

Dave:  I think industry is seeing the wisdom in fully embracing landowners as partners who are keen on participating in the energy economy, and in promoting good projects. They’re also coming around to the idea that it is inefficient and very bad PR to even be perceived as disrespecting landowners. We are already seeing a lot of this kind of progressive thinking coming from pipeline companies such as Enbridge and TransCanada, to name a couple of examples.

When pipeline companies and landowners work together as partners it becomes much easier to get projects sold to the public and built.

Q: How can the pipeline industry improve?

Dave: It begins by opening up the conversation. As landowners we need to be honest about what our real concerns are, and pipeline companies need to be aware of the value of property rights. 

I think we are becoming better partners already, because once we get a frank dialogue going, we start to find common ground. It is very much about respect – for individuals, the family farm, agribusiness and property rights. Once we have respect, and I mean mutual respect, we can open up that dialogue, find common ground, create solutions and provide peace of mind for landowners, which all results in projects getting built in a more timely, cost-efficient, and friendly manner. It’s good for landowners, good for the company, and good for the public. We have done it in the past and we can continue to do it going forward.

Q: Do you have one final word?

Dave: The current consultation process, which is a product of the regulatory system, is not adequate, or fair to anybody. Pipeline companies are struggling to get projects approved, and landowners feel as though they have lost their property rights. CAEPLA wants to work with landowners and companies to broker (negotiate) fast, efficient, win-win business agreements. We advocate a liberalized system that includes recognition of property rights.

You can read more about the importance of dialogue in this recent post: ‘Bridging the gap – finding common ground on pipelines’. And to learn more about collaboration between pipeline companies and Aboriginal communities, check out ‘Can First Nations communities and pipeline companies work together?’.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 119,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2015, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.

The views on this blog post do not necessarily reflect the view of CEPA or its membership.