Peace River Mainline Abandonment Raises Big Questions for Landowners and Regulators...

By Dave Core

Posted on October 03, 2017

Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) a division of TransCanada Pipelines, has applied to the National Energy Board (NEB) to abandon its 266km Peace River Mainline Pipeline. Interestingly the company has applied to remove 9 km of pipeline on treaty land while applying to leave 257 km in place on all other land.

Everyone likes gas stations but we have all seen abandoned ones, those brown areas in every city that have been vacant for years and are too often impossible to sell. 

Will pipeline land be any different? 

If pipelines are left in the ground as suggested by many companies, how will historical contamination be found?  Will the pipelines corrode and act as a water conduit, moving water and possible contamination from property to property? Will crop producing topsoil subside or wash away? Are there safety issues if the pipeline collapses from the weight of machinery?

And does the pipeline company or the NEB guarantee that farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, acreage owners, municipalities or the taxpayer won’t be left with worthless properties or messes to clean up?

This article NEB to hold public hearing on biggest-ever pipeline abandonment application presents NGTL’s position on abandonment. 

Below is the link to the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Associations (CAEPLA) and the Peace River Mainline Landowner Committee (PRMLC) intervention at the hearing. CAEPLA and PRMLC together represent a number of directly impacted landowners and have provided evidence of their views on the abandonment application with letters of support from two of the affected rural municipalities.


NEB Abandonment Cost Estimates Review (ACE Review) 2016

Western Canada is facing a deluge of abandoned orphan wells – energy infrastructure left behind but not remediated. Left behind by short sighted companies -- encouraged by regulators -- that did not budget for abandonment or failed before their wells did. 

Alberta recently announced it will “lend” $235-million of taxpayer money to the Orphan Well Fund while Saskatchewan looks to Ottawa to finance clean up of its deserted wells.

The National Energy Board is still attempting to determine how much money pipeline companies should be putting in an abandonment fund so that farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, other landowners and taxpayers won’t have to cover the cost of pipelines left behind after they are either no longer safe or no longer profitable.

The good news is that the NEB’s fundamental principal for collecting the fund is that “landowners will not be liable for costs of pipeline abandonment.” 

The bad news is the NEB has no idea whether that means collecting funds for full removal or for pipelines left in place. Which fulfills the fundamental principal and determines how much should be collected. 

Worth noting is NGTL speculates that the cost to remove its Peace River Mainline pipeline is about 5X the cost of leaving it in place.

Read CAEPLA and our landowners perspective here:

tags:  National Energy Board, NEB, TransCanada, pipelines, TCPL, abandonment, landowners, Peace River Mainline, Nova Gas, NGTL, orphan wells, Orphan Well Fund, brown fields