Pipeline companies are working hard to improve relationships with landowners



Pipeline companies are working hard to improve relationships with landowners

"Even though over the past decade CEPA members had a safe delivery record of 99.999 per cent, no incident is acceptable."

By CEPA Staff

Global demand for oil and natural gas is set to grow over the coming years, and Canada needs to build new pipelines and facilities to meet that demand. But this development will directly affect the families who live along rights of way.

That’s why the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association (CEPA) and its members are focused on improving relationships with Canada’s landowners, building trust, ensuring our industry is safer and better prepared than ever and making interactions with landowners a lot simpler.

CEPA is a nonprofit organization whose members are owners and operators of transmission pipelines. Transmission pipelines are critical energy infrastructure. They transport virtually all the natural gas and crude oil produced in Canada to markets across North America.

“One of our many roles at is supporting open and honest interactions and conversations between pipeline operators and landowners, always taking landowners’ interests into account,” says Jim Donihee, chief operating officer at CEPA.


We know we need to earn the public’s trust and the continued right to operate, and one of the ways we’ll achieve that is by reaching our goal of zero incidents. Even though over the past decade CEPA members had a safe delivery record of 99.999 per cent, no incident is acceptable.

“When it comes to doing things safely, protecting the environment and people’s property, we want landowners to feel well informed and know that the industry is listening,” Donihee says. “The cooperation and relationships our industry has formed with landowners over the years are extremely valuable, and we really do want to be able to call ourselves trusted neighbours and trusted business partners.”


Through a new program called CEPA Integrity First, our members are making a commitment to continuous improvement in safety, environment and the socio-economic impacts of our industry. They’re initially focusing on improving performance in pipeline integrity, emergency management and control-room management, sharing best practices along the way to improve our industry’s performance.

“Zero incidents is our goal, and from our perspective, there is no such thing as competition when it comes to acting in the best interests of Canadians, including landowners,” Donihee says.


CEPA supports the “polluter pays” principle — a commonly accepted practice in which a company that produces pollution should bear the costs of managing it.

Over the past two years, CEPA and its members have worked closely with Natural Resources Canada, industry and a wide range of stakeholders to develop the Pipeline Safety Act (Bill C-46). The bill received widespread political support and was brought into law in June. It includes increasing the number of inspections and audits by the National Energy Board.

“The new law requires pipeline companies to have a minimum of $1 billion available to respond to any incident,” Donihee says. “It gives assurances to landowners that emergencies will be dealt with, with no expense spared.”


Another step forward in improving safety is CEPA’s Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement (MEAA), which formalizes the existing practice of companies helping each other out in the case of a major incident, sharing expertise and equipment.

CEPA members conducted a joint emergency management exercise in Edmonton in 2014, testing the ability of companies to follow procedures, putting a call out for assistance and executing the MEAA in real time. Lessons learned are being used to improve processes and procedures in every response.


As well as our focus on safety, the industry is looking to improve its approaches and interactions with landowners. To make sure they are being treated consistently, landowners requested the development of a standard easement agreement. This agreement is intended to be the resource document for use in land discussions in an effort to ensure that common principles and language are maintained.

“Landowners asked industry for standardization and we delivered,” Donihee says.

Written in plain language, the agreement has been available for use by CEPA member companies since April 2015. The agreement will be reviewed after one year to measure if it’s being used appropriately.


In an effort to make sure that interactions with landowners are respectful, consistent and transparent, CEPA has also introduced the Canadian Land Representatives Industry Orientation for Federally Regulated Pipelines (Land Representatives Industry Orientation). This code of conduct sets out common principles, expectations and values that land agents have to read and understand before engaging with landowners.

“By improving mutual understanding we’re hoping any potential concerns can be avoided,” Donihee says. “Positive communication and open dialogue are critical to building trust and good relationships with landowners.”

CEPA members include Access Pipeline Inc., Alliance Pipeline Ltd., ATCO Pipelines, Enbridge Pipelines Inc., Inter Pipeline Ltd., Kinder Morgan Canada, Pembina Pipeline Corp., Plains Midstream Canada ULC, Spectra Energy Transmission, TransCanada PipeLines Ltd., TransGas Ltd. and Trans-Northern Pipelines Inc.

For more facts and information on CEPA, visit aboutpipelines.com

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER Fall 2015

Pipeline Observer


Landowner-driven, CAEPLA advocates on behalf of farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners to promote safety and environmental protection through respect for your property rights.