A Canadian landowner's guide to pipelines

Almost all of Canada’s crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids production and water (saline and fresh) requirements are transported through a vast network of pipelines.

Pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting large quantities of hydrocarbons and water over long distances all across the country.

Buried more than a metre underground, pipeline sizes can range from 25.4 millimetres to more than a metre in diameter. Constructing and operating pipeline systems require careful planning and design to ensure they can operate safely and reliably.

As with other oil and gas activities, pipeline projects require public consultation, landowner negotiation, environmental assessment, land use considerations and regulatory approval.

  • Pipeline integrity

    Pipeline integrity means that the pipeline and all its related components are functioning properly. The design, construction, operation, maintenance and discontinuation (abandonment) of Encana’s pipelines adhere to strict regulations to ensure Canada’s pipeline systems are operated safely, responsibly and in the public interest.

    Design and construction decisions are guided by rigorous standards developed by CSA International (a division of the Canadian Standards Association) standards as well as by federal, provincial, territorial and, in some cases, municipal regulations.

    Pipeline owners may employ a number of sophisticated tools and technologies to prevent, detect or diagnose potential pipeline integrity concerns. Integrity management may include various applications of protection, including but not limited to, the use of internal and external protective coatings, pressure testing, cathodic protection and ‘in-line’ internal pipeline inspection tools.

    If you have a question about the location and physical attributes of a particular pipeline (size, material, content, pressure), please contact Encana directly at 403.645.2000.

  • Pipeline construction

    Prior to construction of the pipeline, Encana surveys proposed routes to determine soil characteristics, plant and animal types in the area, archeological resources and current land use to minimize impacts on the land and inconvenience to the landowners.

    During construction layers of topsoil and subsoil are removed separately and conserved (stored) adjacent to the pipeline trench. Once the pipeline is in place, the soils are replaced in the sequence in which it was removed and the lands are recontoured and revegetated.

    In order to reclaim and restore sites to an equivalent land use capability, Encana uses seed mixes compatible with the surrounding environment and/or in consultation with the landowner.

  • Damage prevention – what you should know

    There are many activities that create a ground disturbance and can cause damage to pipelines, increasing the potential for leaks, ruptures or failures.

    These activities may include:

    • excavating, digging and trenching
    • plowing (cable, pipe), drilling, tunneling, augering and backfilling
    • driving posts, bars, pins etc., topsoil stripping land leveling and quarrying
    • tree planting, rock picking grading, blasting and clearing
    • any activity disturbing the ground – exceeding 30 centimeters in depth
    • activities permanently reducing the amount of pipeline cover

    Damage from agricultural or construction activity near pipelines is a common cause of pipeline accidents.

    Encana marks pipeline routes clearly and actively participates in all available provincial One Call programs to create awareness of the dangers associated with underground facilities and to reduce the hazard and risks of unintended pipeline strikes.

    If you hit a pipeline, stop work, evacuate the area and contact Encana immediately at our 24-hour emergency number of 403.645.3333.

  • Pipeline right-of-way (ROW) and safety zone

    Pipelines are installed within a strip of land referred to as a right-of-way (ROW). Encana has acquired rights to use this land for the construction, operation and maintenance of its pipelines, however ownership of the land remains with the landowner.

    The safety zone or control area extends to either side of the pipeline ROW. Please consult the appropriate federal or provincial jurisdiction for specific ground disturbance safety zone distances and requirements for your area.

    Prior to conducting a ground disturbance within a pipeline ROW, you must have written permission from the pipeline owner before starting work. The pipeline owner may have specific ‘safe work’ requirements you will need to undertake in order to prevent damage to the pipeline.

    The pipeline owner will mark the boundaries of the ROW, and (if required – depending on your specific scope of work) may elect to be onsite to supervise and inspect the process of exposing, excavating, and backfilling of the pipeline.

    For specific information on Encana’s pipelines(s) on your land, please call the general inquiries line at 403.645.2000. Please have the legal land description for your property available when you call.

    Pipeline systems that cross provincial or international boundaries are regulated by the federal government, primarily the National Energy Board (NEB). Pipelines which are wholly contained within a province typically fall under that province’s regulatory jurisdiction.

    Alberta – Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB);

    Alberta’s Energy Regulator (effective June 1, 2013)

    British Columbia – Oil and Gas Commission (OGC);

    Nova Scotia – National Energy Board

    Deep Panuke onshore pipeline

    Please call the Encana toll free number at 1.888.568.6322 if you have a question about:

    • the jurisdiction over a particular pipeline
    • guidance on the types of activities and events that should be reported to Encana
    • general requirements of easement agreements pertaining to the continued safe operation of the pipeline (prohibited land uses and allowances for structures)
    • guidelines and service standards for processing crossing requests
    • regulatory requirements and the consequences of non-compliance
  • Limitations for land use on the right-of-way (ROW)

    You may continue to farm the land above the pipeline with certain limitations.

    • you are required to contact the provincial One Call organization for your area or Encana at 403.645.2000 if you are planning ground disturbances on the ROW
    • you may not do anything that results in a reduction of the earth cover over the pipeline to a depth that is less than the cover provided when the pipeline was installed
    • standard farm machinery may be driven over the pipeline but if you are using heavy equipment, driving a regular trail that results in compaction or anticipate any heavy rutting, please contact Encana first to verify that the activity is safe. We may want to take additional steps to ensure that the pipeline is protected
    • buildings, either permanent or temporary, and other structures such as portable grain bins may not be constructed within the ROW
    • Additionally, do not store farm machinery, crops, hay, straw, or plant any trees on the ROW area
    • fences may be constructed but you must not place any posts directly above the pipeline. Ensure that you contact the One Call in your province who will mark the location of the pipeline before you dig holes, place or pound any posts
    • constructed roadways, buried irrigation water pipelines, private utility, sewer and communication lines may beinstalled, but you must first obtain the consent of Encana, usually in the form of a crossing consent agreement. We will provide you with certain minimum construction and notification requirements. Again, you must also contact the One Call organization in your province who will arrange to mark the location of the pipeline(s) before you perform any ground disturbance activity.
  • Vegetation and weeds

    If you notice a change in growing pattern, subsidence of soil, weeds or similar changes on the ROW area, please contact us with any questions or concerns that you may have and we will give it our immediate attention.

    If these issues are a direct result of the pipeline, Encana may need to perform additional work (spraying, mowing, cultivating, re-seeding etc.) to address your specific concern.

    Our team of technical and environmental specialists inspect all newly installed pipelines. ROWs are also monitored on regular intervals as part of our pipeline integrity management programs.

  • Emergency response plans (ERPs)

    The safety of the public, our staff and the environment are Encana’s number one priority. To that end, we maintain Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) designed to ensure an effective response in the event of an emergency.

    Assessing and dealing with the cause of the emergency and notifying stakeholders and communities are key elements of our plans. This ensures incidents will be effectively managed and any potential impact to people, community, environment or pipeline facilities will be mitigated.

    Encana’s ERPs are regularly reviewed and updated and personnel are trained under these plans in accordance with regulations in Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Employees and contractors also regularly conduct exercises and drills to reinforce our emergency response capabilities.

  • Pipeline safety and monitoring

    Field staff maintain the day to day operations and perform regular inspection and routine maintenance activities. In addition to safe operating practices and ERP’s, well sites, facilities and pipelines are engineered and constructed with built-in safety equipment designed to protect the infrastructure, environment, workers and the public.

    Other features may also include:

    • remote measurement and monitoring by local area plant control room operations
    • Emergency Shut Down (ESD) valves located at key/strategic points in the pipeline system

    At Encana, responsible development is achieved by listening to local communities, employing sound operating practices, using existing infrastructure, minimizing our surface footprint and being good stewards of the land. We strive to meet or exceed regulatory guidelines and participate in the development of industry best practices – contributing along the way, to the ultimate success of our operations and projects.

    Encana is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline. Our operations encompass periodic activities which may include repair, replacement, testing, monitoring, locating, inspecting and maintaining the pipeline and pipeline ROWs on a regular basis.

    On occasion, we may need to enter the ROW area for these operations; however, whenever possible we will employ best efforts to provide landowners with reasonable notice. This may not be possible in urgent or emergency situations; however, every effort will be made to keep you apprised of our activity.

  • Safety measures in the event of a pipeline strike

    Pipeline leaks are extremely rare and can be very dangerous. If you notice any of the following (unusual or abnormal) signs along a right-of-way, there may be a leak.

    • a loud whistling, hissing or roaring sound nearby to a pipeline
    • a strong smell of hydrocarbons or rotten eggs (odour associated with Mercaptan or hydrogen sulphide)
    • vegetation within a specific area of the ROW appears discoloured or damaged
    • a build-up of frost on the ground or pools of liquid
    • bubbles rising in free standing water
    • isolated vapour or mist clouds

    If you suspect that a pipeline is leaking, or if you accidentally strike or expose pipe during any kind of activity (such as digging, construction excessive rutting), immediately vacate the area and contact Encana at our 24-hour emergency line: 403.645.3333.

    If there is any injury or risk to people, call 911 first.

  • What you can expect from us

    We are committed to responsible operations, and will establish work expectations with landowners, including:

    • cleaning equipment prior to arrival on site
    • adhering to landowner agreements and commitments
    • using best efforts to access minimal disturbance leases under dry or frozen conditions (not wet)
  • Responsible abandonment of pipelines

    Encana owns three pipelines that are regulated by the National Energy Board (NEB), the Tupper Hythe and Mid Tupper pipelines in Alberta and the Deep Panuke pipeline in Nova Scotia. The Deep Panuke pipeline also is regulated by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

    As part of Encana’s operations of these pipelines, plans are in place to responsibly abandon them at the end of their economic life.

    In 2008, the NEB began an initiative to ensure all owners of NEB regulated pipelines have financial mechanisms in place to pay for future pipeline abandonment, thus ensuring funds are available when needed.

    For further information on pipeline abandonment estimates and corresponding financial mechanisms for each pipeline, please see the NEB reporting forms for Tupper Hythe, Mid Tupper and Deep Panuke.

    For additional background information related to the NEB’s Pipeline Abandonment process please see Land Matter Consultation Initiative Stream 3 (RH-2-2008); Abandonment Cost Estimate (MH-001-2012) and Cost Set-Aside/Collection Application (MH-001-2013).

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