In this decision, the CER considered an application by NOVA Gas Transmission Limited (“NGTL”) for the abandonment of 15 meter stations and 22 associated lateral pipelines, one stand-alone meter station and four stand-alone laterals (the “2018 Program”). The CER granted NGTL leave to abandon these facilities (the “Facilities”).
Application and 2018 program overview
The CER noted that the proposed 2018 Program was located throughout Alberta on freehold lands, lands owned by municipalities, Special Areas lands, Alberta Crown (Alberta Environment and Parks [“AEP”], and Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation) lands, Federal Crown (Canadian Forces Base [“CFB”] Suffield) lands, and on lands located on the Saddle Lake Cree Indian Reserve No. 125 (“SLC IR No.125”).
NGTL stated that at each site the scope of its 2018 Program was relatively small in scale and short in duration with physical abandonment activities at each location lasting 14 to 28 days. Eleven facilities would be abandoned by removal including approximately 15 km of lateral pipelines. The remainder of the 2018 Program facilities, including approximately 158 km of lateral pipelines, would be abandoned in place. Above- and below-ground facility infrastructure would be removed at 16 meter station locations, and excavation and isolation would occur at 34 locations. All abandoned above-ground infrastructure (meter stations and side valves) would be removed.
Assessment of the Application
The CER found that the 2018 Program’s abandonment activities as described in the application were consistent with NGTL’s commitment to conduct hazard assessments on the pipeline, and requirement to comply with CSA Z662-15 and the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations. The CER was therefore satisfied with NGTL’s approach.
The CER noted that the abandonment of the Facilities were not expected to have a material impact on service or tolls for NGTL’s shippers. The CER was satisfied that NGTL has sufficient funds to carry out the abandonment work. The CER noted that NGTL’s abandonment trust could be drawn upon in the case of unforeseen liabilities or reclamation obligations. The CER imposed a condition requiring quarterly physical abandonment activity cost reports.
The CER was of the view that the majority of potential adverse environmental effects arising from the 2018 Program would be of low magnitude, limited geographic extent, reversible in the short to medium term, and not likely to cause any significant adverse environmental effects.
Lands, public consultation and socio-economic matters
The CER was satisfied that anyone potentially affected by the 2018 Program was given sufficient notice and had the opportunity to voice their concerns. The CER was of the view that the design and implementation of consultation activities were appropriate for the scale and scope of the 2018 Program.
The CER reviewed NGTL’s activities to engage Indigenous communities and learn about their concerns and interests. The CER was satisfied with the design and implementation of NGTL’s consultation activities to date and was satisfied that any Indigenous community potentially affected by the 2018 Program was given notice and had the opportunity to voice their concerns both to NGTL and through the regulator’s abandonment hearing process.
The CER granted NGTL leave to abandon the facilities.