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NEB responds to pipeline oversight audit
January 26, 2016 - Calgary, Alberta - National Energy Board
The National Energy Board (NEB) welcomes the Fall 2015 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD).
The findings and recommendations of the audit reflected areas that the NEB had recognized as needing improvement and will help improve the NEB to better serve Canadians. The NEB has completed work on many of the recommendations and by the end of 2016 will have comprehensively addressed all of the report’s findings.
More information on how the NEB is responding to the report’s recommendations is available in the attached background information and progress table.
“The NEB thanks the Commissioner and welcomes the audit’s findings and recommendations. The NEB had identified the same areas for improvement and has already completed work on many of the recommendations. An action plan is in place to comprehensively address all of the report’s findings by the end of 2016.”
- Peter Watson, Chair and CEO, National Energy Board.
“The NEB absolutely enforces and monitors all companies’ compliance with pipeline approval conditions and has complete confidence that compliance with pipeline approval conditions is appropriately and comprehensively evaluated by NEB staff and Board members. The audit makes recommendations regarding the documentation of this work and the NEB took immediate action after speaking to the CESD last year to begin rectifying this issue.”
- Peter Watson, Chair and CEO, National Energy Board.
- The report makes six recommendations:
- Four recommendations are about improving NEB documentation processes and data management systems.
- One recommendation is about consolidating the NEB’s risk assessment activities into a central document.
- One recommendation is about continuing to pursue new ways to meet key staffing challenges.
The National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada's energy industry with the safety of Canadians and protection of the environment as its top priority. Its purpose is to regulate pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest. For more information on the NEB and its mandate, please visit www.neb-one.gc.ca.
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National Energy Board
Telephone: 403-837-5267 Telephone (toll-free) 1-800-899-1265
Recommendation 1: The National Energy Board should systematically track compliance with pipeline approval conditions and adequately document this oversight work. This documentation should include, for example, notifying companies on the status of achievement of the condition.
Actions Taken by the NEB: The NEB enforces and monitors all companies’ compliance with pipeline approval conditions and has complete confidence that compliance with pipeline approval conditions is appropriately and comprehensively evaluated by NEB staff and Board members.
The NEB has addressed any deficiencies noted by the audit under recommendation one. The NEB has completed a review of past pipeline approval conditions to ensure compliance information has been documented.
The audit makes recommendations regarding the documentation of this work and the NEB took immediate action after speaking to the CESD last year to begin updating its systems. The NEB monitors companies’ compliance with pipeline approval conditions throughout all phases of the pipeline lifecycle. All filings that are made by companies are assessed and the NEB ensures they are in compliance with approval conditions
The NEB has implemented updated business processes to ensure condition compliance status is documented in the rigorous manner recommended by the report for all new project approvals.
Recommendation 2: The National Energy Board should systematically verify that companies implement corrective actions to non-compliance situations within the required timeline. This includes notifying companies when the corrective action is satisfactory. The Board should integrate this work with needed improvements to information management systems.
Actions Taken by the NEB: The NEB follows up on all identified non-compliances and tracks corrective actions. The NEB has taken significant steps to update our processes and ensure clear timelines are established for company corrective actions. By June 2016, the NEB will have a corrective action process in place to address recommendation two. Updated processes will ensure that deadlines for corrective action are clearly communicated and companies are consistently notified when their corrective actions have met the NEB’s requirements.
Recommendation 3: The National Energy Board should assess and address its information and data management needs. In doing so, the Board should ensure that its information and data management requirements are aligned with the needs of its critical business processes.
Actions Taken by the NEB: The NEB has retained a contractor to recommend a course of action to develop more up-to-date compliance and enforcement data management systems. This will enable faster and easier access to compliance information for the public.
Recommendation 4: The National Energy Board should provide the public with enhanced access to information about company compliance with pipeline approval conditions. Specifically, the National Energy Board should ensure that its website incorporates a user-centred design that the public can access and use efficiently.
Actions Taken by the NEB: The NEB has placed an organization-wide priority on transparency and engagement. This includes a new path forward for stakeholder engagement (see the National Engagement Report) and making more NEB information available online in a format that is easy for Canadians to access and understand.
The CESD audit recognized the NEB’s efforts to improve transparency while pointing out areas where the organization can improve. The NEB has created a new business process to ensure that information regarding future pipeline approval conditions can be made available to the public in an accessible and timely manner. This information will include the company’s progress in meeting the approval conditions. Staff has also begun work on the supporting information systems.
As of November 26th, the NEB is posting all new inspection reports online.
The NEB is entering the second phase of the development of a new inspection data collection and tracking system. This system allows for the posting of inspection reports on-line and updates the collection and reporting of non-compliances and field-inspection related data. This system is expected to be fully functional by early summer. Work has begun on a larger, more comprehensive system to fully integrate all of our compliance and enforcement information and improve timely access to this information for the public.
Recommendation 5: In preparation for its new responsibilities under the Pipeline Safety Act (coming into force by June 2016), the National Energy Board, in consultation with Natural Resources Canada, should consolidate the risks identified through its various risk assessment activities into an all-hazards risk assessment to inform its emergency management plan.
Actions Taken by the NEB: Canadians can be confident in the work the NEB does to protect the environment and public safety. The audit speaks to preparing for the Pipeline Safety Act by consolidating risks identified through several different mechanisms.
The NEB is in the process of consolidating its various risk assessment activities in an updated Strategic Emergency Management Plan. The NEB will be prepared to implement this updated plan in advance of the Pipeline Safety Act coming into force in June.
Recommendation 6: The National Energy Board should review its overall resource assessment and, in consultation with other relevant federal authorities where appropriate, should further explore avenues to address and resolve its challenges in the recruitment and retention of key staff.
Actions Taken by the NEB: The NEB has the resources, technical expertise and experience to effectively regulate Canada’s federal energy infrastructure. The NEB’s staff includes over 140 technical specialists dedicated to safety and environmental protection and who work in areas including environment, engineering, safety and damage prevention, emergency management, operations compliance and audit, and security.
The NEB has been successful in attracting employees. While the recent downturn in the energy sector has made staffing less challenging, the NEB will continue to develop innovative solutions to meet staffing challenges in the long-term.
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