Onshore Pipeline Regulations Review – Discussion Paper
Table of Contents
- What is the OPR Review?
- Discussion Paper
- Section 1. OPR – Lessons Learned
- Section 2. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
- Section 3. Engagement and Inclusive Participation
- Section 4. Global Competitiveness
- Section 5. Safety and Environmental Protection
- Management Systems
- Human and Organizational Factors
- Programs and Plans for Safety
- Respect and Workplace Safety
- Contractor Management
- Process Safety
- Programs and Plans for Environmental Protection
- Management of Contaminated Sites
- Emergency Management Program
- Quality Assurance for Pipeline Materials
- Strength of Steel Pipe Relative to Welds
- Section 6. Implementation Objectives
- How to Provide Input and Closing Date for Comments
The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) implements and oversees a regulatory framework focused on the safe and efficient delivery of energy to Canada and the world, protecting the environment, and recognizing and respecting the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. With the introduction of the 2019 Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act), the CER aims to be a regulator that has the confidence of all Canadians; is dedicated to ensuring safety and environmental protection; builds strong relationships with Indigenous peoples; and enhances Canada’s global competitiveness. The CER’s Strategic Plan provides a road map of what Canadians can expect from the CER in the years ahead.
Through the CER Act, the CER is responsible for ensuring that pipelinesFootnote 1 crossing provincial and international borders are constructed, operated, and abandoned in a safe and secure manner that protects people, property and the environment. The CER’s regulatory framework to accomplish this includes regulations, regulatory documents and guidance. The CER provides oversight for approximately 73,000 km of oil and gas pipelines. Approximately 70% of the pipelines regulated by the CER transport natural gas, while the remaining 30% are oil pipelines. The CER regulates 100 companies, whose operations range from pipelines less than one km in length, to those that stretch across multiple provinces.
The CER’s Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR) provides the rules that companies with authorizations to build and operate these pipelines must follow. The OPR was issued under the National Energy Board Act and has been in place since 1999. The CER is now conducting a comprehensive review of the OPR under the CER Act to update the regulations. The purpose of this Discussion Paper is to seek your input, which will assist with the review of the OPR.
What is the OPR Review?
The CER’s objective for this review is to deliver a regulation that supports the highest level of safety, security and environmental protection, advances Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, addresses transparency and inclusive participation, provides for predictable and timely oversight and encourages innovation. The OPR will continue to function as a single regulation that applies to all CER-regulated companies across the many regions of Canada.
The OPR Review will build on learnings from years of implementing the OPR, and feedback from Indigenous peoples, regulated companies, landowners and other stakeholders. The review will address all areas of the OPR and may result in changes to other parts of the CER’s regulatory framework including regulatory documents and guidance such as the CER’s Filing Manual.
The regulation-making authority for the OPR in the CER Act provides that the Regulator may make the regulation, with the approval of the Governor in Council (CER Act section 96). Within the Regulator, it is the CER’s Board of Directors that approves the regulation, after engagement is conducted by CER employees, in collaboration with the Commission and with the advice of the Indigenous Advisory Committee.
Preparing Your Input for the Discussion Paper
This Discussion Paper contains six sections with questions seeking your input. Please provide input where you would like to contribute. When addressing the questions, please provide any examples you may have, as they are very helpful for explaining the issue. If there are questions for which you have no feedback, please do not feel obliged to provide a response. If there is anything that you would like to say about the OPR, for which there is not a question, please include your input in your submission. All input will be considered in the review of the OPR. Please provide your input by 30 June 2022; information on how to participate and submit input can be found at the end of the Discussion Paper.
This is the initial review stage of this regulation. At this stage, we evaluate regulatory issues first, before recommending that an amendment to the regulation itself is the right tool to address the issue. The CER will work to develop regulatory tools responsive to issues raised during engagement with Indigenous peoples and other stakeholders, including those issues and recommendations which have been previously provided to the Regulator (e.g., from the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees). For example, there may be situations in which issuing new guidance, or a change in process, is more appropriate, or efficient, than changing a regulation. The questions in this Discussion Paper provide the opportunity to address both the regulatory approach and instrument choice. Information on how to make your submission to the CER is provided at the end of this Discussion Paper.
The CER is implementing broad engagement to seek input for the review of the OPR. The CER will contact Indigenous peoples, regulated companies, landowner groups, and others with an interest in the OPR to see how they would like to be engaged and informed during the OPR Review. If you would like to learn more about this Discussion Paper and related engagement, please see the end of this document for more information. Opportunities for engagement and input will be posted on the CER’s Consultation and Engagement Activities webpage.
With the help of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, funding is available to support the participation of Indigenous peoples in the OPR Review. Please see the funding notice on the CER website to find out more and about how to apply, or send an email to email@example.com.
Update – March 1, 2022 – Deadline has passed; please contact the CER about availability of funding prior to applying.
Section 1. OPR – Lessons Learned
The OPR requires regulated companies to establish, implement and maintain management systems and protection programs in order to anticipate, prevent, manage and mitigate conditions that may adversely affect the safety and security of the company’s pipelines, employees, the public, as well as property and the environment. A management system is a systematic approach designed to effectively manage and reduce risk.
The OPR requires that a management system:
- be clear;
- have good documentation and be understood by all employees, at all levels;
- apply to all areas of work and include every regulated activity conducted by the company; and
- be proactive, able to anticipate issues and adjust course.
With this performance-based approach, the goal is for companies to strive to do better than a minimum requirement. A carefully designed and well-implemented management system supports a strong culture of safety, and is fundamental to keeping people safe and protecting the environment.
The CER conducts inspections and audits to confirm compliance with the CER Act, the OPR and other regulations, and conditions on authorizations, using a risk-based compliance verification approach. The CER focuses its compliance verification on those things that pose the highest risk of harm to people and the environment. Where non-compliance occurs, the CER will take necessary compliance and enforcement action to promote compliance, and deter future non-compliance based on a stepped enforcement approach. Through the OPR Review, the CER is seeking feedback on the OPR and its implementation.
1. What’s working well in relation to the OPR, and its implementation, and what could be improved?
Section 2. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
The Preamble of the CER Act states that the Government of Canada is committed to achieving Reconciliation with First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit through renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-Crown relationships based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership. The CER is committed to advancing Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in a manner that is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The CER, working alongside its Indigenous Advisory Committee, is in the early stages of working through how to implement Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The CER’s development of regulatory tools responsive to issues raised during engagement with Indigenous peoples represents a part of this work.
Reconciliation is a strategic priority for the CER with a focus on enhancing involvement of Indigenous peoples in decisions and oversight; enhancing relationships; building CER cultural competency and humility; and driving meaningful change in the CER’s requirements and expectations of regulated industry. The CER is also committed to advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. Calls to Action 43, 44 and 92 call the government and business sector of Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.
The CER is working toward enhancing the involvement of Indigenous peoples in how it implements its mandate recognizing their unique cultures, knowledge and histories. For example, the CER has worked with Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees (IAMCs) since 2017 to develop an Indigenous Monitoring Program, and is in the process of further developing the involvement of Indigenous peoples in pipeline oversight. This provides a more holistic approach to regulation, enhancing awareness and understanding of the diversity of Indigenous peoples, while at the same time keeping energy infrastructure safe and protecting people and the environment.
The CER has an Indigenous Advisory Committee which advises the CER on how to build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples and how best to enhance the involvement of Indigenous peoples and organizations with respect to CER-regulated infrastructure. The Indigenous Advisory Committee facilitates the integration of Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, teachings, values, use of air, land and water, oral traditions, and world views to enhance the involvement of Indigenous peoples in regulation of CER-regulated energy infrastructure. The Indigenous Advisory Committee has highlighted the importance of early and inclusive involvement of Indigenous peoples as the work to transform the OPR commences, and in Canada’s energy transition more broadly.
The current OPR is focused on company management systems and safety, security and environmental protection outcomes. The CER aims to make meaningful change in the CER’s requirements and expectations of regulated industry to advance Reconciliation. The CER expects regulated companies to work differently to support Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
2. How can the OPR contribute to the advancement of Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples?
The CER’s Filing Manual sets out information requirements and guidance for applicants regarding the potential impacts a project or regulated activity may have on heritage resources, as well as the CER’s expectations for engagement with Indigenous peoples regarding any potential impacts. Heritage resources include cultural materials (such as archaeological sites and materials); cultural sites (such as burial sites, ceremonial sites, cultural landscapes); and historical places and structures. The company is expected to identify mitigation approaches and must develop heritage resource discovery contingency plans for the possible discovery of heritage resources once construction is underway. Companies must follow applicable federal, provincial or territorial requirements when their activities can impact heritage resources.
Indigenous peoples have expressed concern about potential impacts to heritage resources when companies construct pipelines, or conduct operations and maintenance activities on the pipeline right-of-way. The CER has received feedback from Indigenous peoples that the CER should improve its oversight of actions taken by companies to identify and protect potential heritage resources of Indigenous peoples during construction, and during operations and maintenance activities.
3. How can the OPR contribute to the protection of heritage resources on a pipeline right-of-way during construction, and operations and maintenance activities?
Traditional Land and Resource Use, and Sites of Significance for Indigenous Peoples
At the project application stage, the CER Act requires the Commission to consider the rights, interests and concerns of Indigenous peoples, including with respect to their use of lands and resources for traditional purposes. The CER’s Filing Manual sets out information requirements and guidance for applicants regarding how lands and resources in relation to a project area are used by Indigenous peoples for traditional purposes, as well as the CER’s expectations for engagement with Indigenous peoples regarding any potential project impacts on their rights and interests.
The CER has received feedback from Indigenous peoples that the CER can improve its oversight of actions taken by companies to protect sites of significance for Indigenous peoples and lands and resources used for traditional purposes, particularly during a company’s operations and maintenance activities.
4. How can the OPR contribute to the protection of traditional land and resource use, and sites of significance for Indigenous peoples on a pipeline right-of-way, during construction, and operations and maintenance activities?
The Preamble of the CER Act states that the Government of Canada is committed to taking into account Indigenous knowledge in decision-making. Indigenous peoples have advised the CER that Indigenous knowledge should be considered and included in decision-making throughout the lifecycle of the pipeline. For example, Indigenous peoples have recommended that Indigenous knowledge experts be included in developing emergency response plans to protect sites of significance for Indigenous peoples and traditional use sites such as for medicinal plants.
5. How can the use of Indigenous knowledge be addressed in the OPR?
Involvement of Indigenous Peoples in Pipeline Oversight
The CER is committed to enhancing the involvement of Indigenous peoples in pipeline oversight. The CER has worked with the IAMCs to develop an Indigenous Monitoring Program where Indigenous monitors are trained and participate in CER inspection and other oversight activities for several pipeline systems and projects. This has provided the opportunity for values and priorities of Indigenous peoples to be directly addressed, relationships between all involved to be built (regulator, company, Indigenous peoples), and the considerations for heritage resources and sites of significance for Indigenous peoples to be addressed proactively.
6. How can the OPR address the participation of Indigenous peoples in pipeline oversight?
Section 3. Engagement and Inclusive Participation
The Preamble of the CER Act affirms the Government of Canada’s commitment to transparent processes that are built on early engagement and inclusive participation. The CER is committed to fostering trust and confidence through robust communications, transparency, collaboration and inclusive engagement. The CER expects the companies it regulates to take a proactive approach to communication and engagement as they conduct regulated activities.
Planning for Pipelines and Related Company Activities
The CER has received feedback from Indigenous peoples, municipalities, landowners and other stakeholders that improvements can be made in how companies interact with them as companies conduct their activities. Indigenous peoples and others have provided feedback that the ability to participate in company planning for operations and maintenance activities, and in emergency planning and response exercises, is important. Landowners have expressed concerns about the potential impacts of company activities to property and about the adequacy of reclamation activities. Municipalities have noted the need for two-way, proactive communication with companies when pipelines are being planned and designed.
7. How can the OPR support collaborative interaction between companies and those who live and work near pipelines?
Proactive Communication and Engagement
The CER expects that companies communicate and engage proactively with those potentially affected by company activities. The OPR requires a company to have processes in its management system and programs for communication of all safety, security, emergency management, damage prevention and environmental protection matters with those who may be affected. The OPR requires that a company proactively plans and engages with first responders and the public on emergency response measures. The OPR does not currently require a company to have an engagement program in place but in some recent pipeline authorizations the Commission has added incremental engagement responsibilities as conditions.
The CER has received feedback that improvements can be made on engagement and communication requirements. For example, the CER has received input from Indigenous peoples that clarity is needed on requirements for company communication and engagement on planning and implementing activities related to pipeline construction, operations and maintenance. For emergency preparedness and response, the CER has received feedback from Indigenous peoples, first responders, and others that there is a desire for greater understanding of, and involvement in, a company’s emergency management processes.
8. How could communication and engagement requirements in the OPR be improved?
Trust and Confidence
As noted in the CER’s Strategic Plan, the CER aims to foster the trust and confidence of Canadians through robust communications, transparency, collaboration and inclusive engagement. The CER is working to deliver a regulatory system that Canadians can trust by being open and transparent about CER decisions, data, engagement, regulatory framework approaches, and being more inclusive in who the CER listens to and learns from, in all phases and parts of the CER’s work.
9. How could the CER improve transparency through the OPR?
Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus)
The Preamble of the CER Act expresses the Government of Canada’s commitment to assessing how groups of women, men, and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs, and projects, and to take action that contributes to an inclusive and democratic society and allows for all Canadians to participate fully in all spheres of their lives. Gender-based analysis plus (GBA Plus) is an analytical tool used to assess the potential impacts of policies, programs, services, and other initiatives on diverse groups of women, men, and people with other gender identities. The “plus” in GBA Plus acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences. Everyone has multiple identity factors that intersect to make people who they are; GBA Plus also takes into account many other identity factors, such as ethnicity, language, geographical region of residence, disability status, religion, age and family status.
10. Gender and other intersecting identity factors may influence how people experience policies and initiatives. What should the CER consider with respect to:
- a. those people implementing the OPR; or
- b. those people who are impacted by the operational activities addressed in the OPR?
Section 4. Global Competitiveness
The Preamble of the CER Act states that the Government of Canada is committed to enhancing Canada’s global competitiveness by building a system that enables decisions to be made in a predictable and timely manner, providing certainty to investors and stakeholders, driving innovation and enabling the implementation of sound projects that create jobs for Canadians. The CER’s objective is to provide regulatory clarity and efficiency with clear, transparent expectations and processes. The CER supports innovation as companies adjust to changes in government policies, societal expectations, and global markets. In light of the commitment to enhancing Canada’s global competitiveness, there may be areas for improvement in the CER’s regulatory framework, including the OPR.
Predictable and Timely Regulatory Oversight
Predictable and timely regulatory oversight is important to industry. The CER is committed to implementing a regulatory system that is predictable, transparent and efficient. The CER is working to continue to improve its regulatory oversight by providing clarity on its requirements and streamlining processes. For example, the CER has provided clear guidance through its Event Reporting Guidelines for submitting information on events required by regulation to be reported to the CER, and a one-stop reporting portal through its online Event Reporting System.
11. How can the OPR support a predictable and timely regulatory system that contributes to Canada’s global competitiveness?
Innovation and Flexibility
The OPR’s management system requirements provide companies the flexibility to continually improve and innovate to meet regulatory requirements in a way that aligns with company-specific risks and the systems needed to address them. Several Canadian Standards Association standards for matters such as pipeline design, storage, transport, and security are incorporated by reference in the OPR to provide specific technical rules that companies must follow. These standards allow for the use of up-to-date processes and technologies.
The CER supports innovative approaches and the use of equipment, processes, and procedures that are based on new technologies. The CER has seen development of technologies in several areas related to pipeline design, operation, and monitoring, such as new leak detection technologies, pipeline inline inspection technologies, and new defect assessment procedures. The CER has also been involved in reviewing a number of these new technologies through the current regulatory framework.
12. How can the OPR support innovation, and the development and use of new technologies or best practices?
Data and Digital Innovation
Over the past few years, the CER has worked to create a data and digital innovation culture and systems that enable the effective delivery of the CER’s mandate. Data technology allows results to be tracked over time and analyzed to contribute to continual improvement. The OPR requires a company to have a data management system in place to monitor and analyze the trends in hazards, incidents and near-misses. The OPR requires a company to submit incident reporting to the CER, and the CER tracks incident data to support company performance monitoring, oversight planning and related regulatory actions. Industry tracking measures such as the Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) are helpful to review the number of fatalities, lost time injuries, substitute work, and other injuries requiring treatment by a medical professional per million hours worked. Global indicators such as these can contribute to data trending and support the development of an effective regulatory oversight system as well as public awareness. In another recent initiative, CER has used data to provide an interactive pipeline map and to identify events of interest to the public and potentially affected parties.
13. What company-specific or industry-wide performance metrics could the CER consider to support enhanced oversight and transparency for CER-regulated facilities?
14. Are there opportunities within the OPR for data and digital innovation that could be used by the CER and by companies regulated by the CER?
Change in Pipeline Use and Status
To support Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy, clear processes are key for the change of use and change in status of energy infrastructure. Changing market patterns will require the ability to quickly adapt systems to respond.
Changes in pipeline use could include change of product in the system or change of product flow direction. The CER has seen an increase in instances where companies are seeking to change the type of product being carried or the direction of flow of the product that was initially approved for the pipeline. These changes can have impacts on pipeline integrity. For these situations, the OPR contains requirements that a company must follow to ensure safety and protection of the environment.
For a change in pipeline status, when a company plans to permanently end the operation of a pipeline, or part of one, the company must submit an application to the Commission. The legal term in the CER Act is seeking “leave to abandon” the pipeline. The company must follow the requirements of the OPR and the Commission’s conditions on the authorization to ensure that the pipeline is properly cleaned, removed if appropriate, and that required environmental remediation and reclamation is completed.
When a company plans to end the operation of a pipeline, or part of one, but it is located in the footprint of pipelines and facilities that continue to operate, such that all remediation and reclamation cannot be completed at that time, the company may submit an application to decommission the pipeline and take it out of use. The CER has seen several situations over the past years where a company has not been clear whether it should apply to decommission the pipeline or for leave to abandon a pipeline.
15. How can the OPR be improved to address changing pipeline use and pipeline status?
Section 5. Safety and Environmental Protection
The OPR provides requirements for safety and environmental protection outcomes through management system and program requirements. This approach allows for companies to innovate and develop systems and programs in the way that best addresses their situations. In consideration of learnings from implementing the OPR, there may be areas for improvement in safety and environmental protection requirements.
The OPR was amended in 2013 to clarify management system requirements, and the CER has conducted audits that have identified areas for improvement in company management systems. The CER recently published a guide for management system requirements with a protocol for conducting management system audits. Based on past audit results, feedback from industry, and learnings collected through various forums over the past several years, the CER recognized that the previous audit guidance could be further refined. With this updated guidance, the CER anticipates that companies will be in a better position to evaluate their respective management systems because they will have a clearer understanding of CER expectations for future audits. Company development and implementation of well-designed and effective management systems are fundamental to keeping people safe and protecting the environment.
16. What further clarification, in either the OPR (e.g. structure or content), or in guidance, would support company interpretation and implementation of management system requirements?
Human and Organizational Factors
Through the CER Act, the CER may now include human and organizational factors in management systems required by the OPR. Human and organizational factors affect how people make decisions and perform their work. Human and organizational factors include matters such as individual capabilities and limitations (e.g. fatigue, decision-making and competence), group dynamics and team coordination (e.g. critical communication, workload distribution), work and job factors (e.g. task complexity, human-machine interface), and organizational influences (e.g. cultural characteristics, priorities, organizational structure). When managed well, human and organizational factors set individuals, teams and companies up for success. When they are poorly managed or have not been considered, safety and environmental protection outcomes can be compromised. The human and organizational factors discipline considers the interaction of all these things and applies tools, data, methods, and training to optimize human and organizational performance. There is a growing awareness and understanding that examining human and organizational factors enables better anticipation and management of hazards and risks to prevent pipeline system failures. The Canadian Standards Association and the American Petroleum Institute now include references to human and organizational factors, in connection with recommended best practices for pipeline safety management systems. In 2021, the Canadian Standards Association began developing an Express Document providing guidance on human and organizational factors for pipeline systems. The CER supports this work with leadership and expertise. Providing direction and guidance on human and organizational factors can assist in promoting and advancing:
- identification of all types of hazards including those related to hardware, software, environment, human limitations, and organizational functioning and effectiveness;
- continual learning and improvement; and
- development and maintenance of a robust culture of safety across regulated companies, for both employees and contractors.
17. How should information about human and organizational factors, including how they can be integrated into a company’s management system, for both employees and contractors, be provided in the OPR, and/or described in related guidance?
Programs and Plans for Safety
The OPR requires a company to have a Safety Management Program in place that anticipates, prevents, manages and mitigates any conditions that may affect safety during all company activities. The OPR also requires a company to develop a Construction Safety Manual and a Maintenance Safety Manual to provide for safety during all company activities throughout the project lifecycle.
The CER has found that better connections can be made between company safety manuals and the Safety Management Program. A company’s safety manuals should reflect the implementation of the company’s management system and Safety Management Program, and should apply to the full lifecycle of the project, for both employees and contractors.
18. How can the OPR improve the connection between company safety manuals and the overarching Safety Management Program, for both employees and contractors?
Respect and Workplace Safety
The CER is aware that CER Inspection Officers, CER Indigenous monitors, and members of the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees have experienced discrimination and harassment while conducting work on CER-regulated infrastructure. The CER recently issued a letter to all companies regarding conduct in the field and reminding them of their legal obligations with respect to protecting employees and preventing occurrences of workplace harassment and violence. On 1 January 2021, the Government of Canada’s new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations made under Part II of the Canada Labour Code (CLC), came into effect. These regulations apply to all employers and workplaces covered under Part II of the CLC, including the federal public service and the federally regulated private sector. The CER expects that companies have policies and processes in place to meet the requirements and intent of legislation and regulations for workplace safety and for safety matters related to company activities. The CER is seeking to understand whether further requirements or guidance are needed to address this issue.
19. How can respect and personal workplace safety be assured at CER regulated sites?
Companies are responsible for all activities related to their CER-issued regulatory approvals or certificates. The OPR requires a company to communicate with, and oversee, all personnel including contractors to inform them of all safety and environmental protection requirements and obligations. Due to the nature of the energy industry and work, the majority of personnel working at CER-regulated sites are contractors.
20. How should the CER be more explicit about requirements for contractor management?
The OPR requires a company to identify hazards, and evaluate and manage risks, in order to prevent incidents. The CER has found that hazard identification often focuses on worker safety. Process safety hazards must also be identified, and risks evaluated and managed, in order to prevent incidents such as unintended releases. Process safety focuses on the prevention of releases of hazardous material or energy that can lead to major accidents such as fires, explosions, and unintended releases. Process safety management is the application of management principles and systems for the identification, understanding, avoidance, and control of process hazards to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from process-related incidents.
21. How should the OPR include more explicit requirements for process safety?
Programs and Plans for Environmental Protection
The OPR requires a company to have an Environmental Protection Program that anticipates, prevents, manages and mitigates any conditions that could adversely affect the environment. As part of the Environmental Protection Program and risk-assessment process requirements in the OPR, companies are expected to review the environmental performance of their systems. This can result in proactive improvements to environmental outcomes. For example, when a company reviews risks to environmental protection, the results may drive upgrades to the company’s infrastructure or practices in way that reduces waste or emissions.
22. How can the OPR drive further improvement to the environmental performance of regulated companies?
Companies typically submit an Environmental Protection Plan for constructing a new pipeline. The Environmental Protection Plan should reflect the implementation of a company’s management system and Environmental Protection Program, and apply to the full lifecycle of the project. The CER has found that the Environmental Protection Plan can better describe specifications for reclamation and how environmental protection will be carried out during operations and maintenance activities for all phases following construction. The Environmental Protection Plan is a product that needs to be adapted for specific applications and activities, and so must be closely managed and updated throughout the project lifecycle.
23. How can the connection between the Environmental Protection Plan, specific to an individual pipeline, and the company’s Environmental Protection Program, designed for a company’s pipeline system, be improved?
Management of Contaminated Sites
Both provincial and federal regulatory frameworks provide for management of contaminated sites. Through the Environmental Protection Program required in the OPR, a company must address contaminated sites proactively. The CER issued a Remediation Process Guide in 2011. Recently, after consultation, CER published an updated Remediation Process Guide with clear objectives and a process for demonstrating that contamination is being managed in a manner that protects the environment and human health.
24. How can contaminated site management requirements be further clarified, in the OPR or in guidance?
Emergency Management Program
The OPR requires a company to have an Emergency Management Program in place that anticipates, prevents, manages, and mitigates conditions during an emergency that could affect worker or public safety, the environment, or property.
In consultation conducted in 2016 and 2017, Canadians requested that information on companies’ emergency procedures manuals and emergency management programs be made available to the public. As a result, companies are now required to post online their emergency procedures manuals and information related to their emergency management programs.
Emergency management specialists, company representatives, and regulators across Canada have worked over the past few years to develop a standard for emergency preparedness and response for petroleum and natural gas industry systems. The CER has been a leader and contributor in the development of this standard – CSA Z246.2 Emergency preparedness and response for petroleum and natural gas industry systems. CSA Z246.2 allows a standardized approach to be taken across jurisdictions when coordinating an emergency response process.
25. Are there any matters related to the Emergency Management Program in the OPR that require clarification? If so, what are they? Are there any matters for which further guidance is required?
Quality Assurance for Pipeline Materials
The OPR requires a company to have a Quality Assurance Program in place that confirms that the pipe and components purchased by the company meet the company’s specifications. The CER has worked with companies on a number of initiatives to improve quality assurance programs over the past few years. In 2017, the CER led a technical workshop with industry and manufacturers on heat treated fittings. Following that review, the CER issued a White Paper in 2018 with recommendations for improvements to quality assurance processes and programs. In 2020-2021, the CER worked with the Canadian Standards Association to develop an Express Document that provides direction on quality assurance for the procurement of pipe and pipe fittings.
26. How could the requirement for a Quality Assurance Program be improved or clarified in the OPR?
Strength of Steel Pipe Relative to Welds
The CER has learned that certain welding procedures can cause girth welds (i.e. welds joining pipes) and the pipe steel adjacent to girth welds to have a lower strength than the base steel of the pipes being joined for certain steel types. The CER takes a proactive approach to addressing matters such as these and is continually engaged with the Canadian Standards Association to update and strengthen relevant standards. In February 2020, the CER issued a Safety Advisory related to girth weld strength. The CER expects companies to know the strength and welding characteristics of the steel they are using and the relative strength of the girth weld area, and to account for this in the design, construction, and operation of their pipelines.
27. How can the OPR incorporate the key issues identified in the Safety Advisory regarding the strength of steel and the relative strength of the weld area?
Section 6. Implementation Objectives
The following objectives will support implementation of an updated OPR, and we are seeking your input to help us with our planning.
Provide a Compliance Promotion Function
Best practices in regulatory oversight show that compliance promotion can be an important tool for the effective implementation of regulations. Compliance verification and enforcement processes can be supported by compliance promotion activities and tools such as outreach meetings, communication on regulatory requirements and desired end results, and discussion forums. The CER actively implements compliance promotion through activities such as compliance meetings with companies, safety and information advisories, and technical workshops.
28. What are your recommendations for compliance promotion at the CER?
Support the Regulations with Technical Guidance
Technical guidance can play a role in supporting compliance promotion and effective implementation of regulatory requirements. Technical guidance can assist interested parties in understanding the requirements of the regulations. It can provide examples of how the regulations may apply in certain situations, how harms may be prevented, and how safety and environmental protection outcomes can be achieved. It can also provide information on best practices and learnings from regulators across similar industries.
29. How do you want to be engaged by the CER in the development of technical guidance?
How to Provide Input and by When
If you have input for any of the questions in this Discussion Paper or the topics reviewed here, please provide it by 30 June, 2022. Your input may be provided electronically and sent to the contact information below.
Input submitted will be posted on the CER’s website for the OPR at CER Act – Regulations, Guidance Notes and Related Documents. Input received by the deadline will be considered in the review of the OPR.
With the help of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, funding is available to support the participation of Indigenous peoples in the OPR Review. Please see the funding notice on the CER website to find out more and about how to apply, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update – March 1, 2022 – Deadline has passed; please contact the CER about availability of funding prior to applying.
Sessions in various formats will be provided for those interested in learning more and in contributing to the OPR Review. Please send any questions to the contact information provided below, and let us know how you would like to be involved or kept informed.
Please visit the OPR Review webpage for information and updates on the OPR review and update process. Further engagement opportunities will also appear on the CER Consultation and Engagement Activities webpage.
Please send your submission for the Onshore Pipeline Regulations Review – Discussion Paper by email to:
If you have any questions about how to participate in the OPR Review, please contact Dan Barghshoon (email@example.com) (toll-free 1-800-899-1265).
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