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Archived - Natural Resources Minister Rickford Announces that the Pipeline Safety Act has Received Royal Assent

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June 18, 2015              
Natural Resources Canada

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that the Pipeline Safety Act (Bill C-46) has received Royal Assent. The Pipeline Safety Act builds on Canada’s already impressive record of safely transporting energy. The National Energy Board (NEB) currently regulates 73,000 kilometres of pipelines, which transport energy across Canada with a safety record of 99.999 percent. This legislation improves Canada’s safety system even further by:

  • Introducing absolute liability for all NEB-regulated pipelines, meaning that companies will be liable for costs and damages irrespective of fault — $1 billion for companies operating major oil pipelines — the only absolute liability that exists among our peer jurisdictions (U.S., the UK and Australia). Companies continue to have unlimited liability when at fault or negligent.
  • Providing the NEB authority to order reimbursement of any clean-up costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals;
  • Providing the NEB authority and resources to take control of incident response if a company is unable or unwilling to do so (i.e., in exceptional circumstances); and
  • Requiring companies operating pipelines to hold a minimum level of financial resources, set at $1 billion for companies operating major oil pipelines.

The $1-billion minimum financial capacity and absolute liability limit are unique to Canada. Countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom do not currently require pipeline operators to demonstrate a minimum financial capacity to respond to any incident and to remedy damage caused by pipeline spills, though they have similar “polluter pays” legislation in place. The Pipeline Safety Act represents the latest milestone in our government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development. Previous actions introduced by the Harper Government also include:

  • Increasing annual inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50 percent and doubling the number of comprehensive audits to improve pipeline safety across Canada. There is now an inspector for every 1,217 miles of federally regulated oil and gas pipeline in Canada, compared with every 5,830 miles in the United States.
  • Introducing new financial penalties on pipeline companies for small infractions to prevent larger incidents from occurring; and
  • Giving the NEB the ability to provide guidance on the use of the best available technologies used in federally regulated pipeline projects. This includes materials, construction methods and emergency response techniques.

The Pipeline Safety Act will now come into force in 12 months. Certain provisions may come into force earlier by proclamation by the Governor in Council.

The Government of Canada will continue introducing measures that further enhance the safe transportation of energy while supporting jobs and growth.

Quick Facts

  • The vast majority of the more than $90-billion worth of Canadian crude oil and natural gas exported in 2013 was transported by pipeline.
  • The rate of spills on federally regulated pipelines in Canada was 57 percent lower than in Europe and 60 percent lower than in the United States over the past decade.


“I am pleased the Pipeline Safety Act delivered through Canada’s plan for Responsible Resource Development has received Royal Assent. These new measures demonstrate our meaningful commitment to enhancing environmental protection while supporting jobs and growth.”

Greg Rickford
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

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Backgrounder – Pipeline Safety

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