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Gathering pipelines take petroleum and natural gas products from wells to processing facilities. Transmission pipelines take products from processing facilities to distribution systems and consumers.

Canada Oil & Gas

Nearly 97 per cent of natural gas and petroleum products in Canada are transported by pipelines and have an even higher safety record. Pipelines are recognized as a safe and efficient mode of conveying oil and gas products and the Commission’s oversight is essential to protecting public safety and the environment.

Pipelines at a glance

Most oil and gas pipelines in B.C., by law through the pipeline regulation, are required to be designed, constructed, maintained and decommissioned to National Standard of Canada CSA Z662 – Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems. Multiple Commission employees volunteer time in various working groups and task forces to provide valuable contributions in an effort to continuously improve this national standard in order to serve British Columbians safer and more efficiently while minimizing environmental impacts.

Most pipelines are designed out of steel or composite materials. The material selection is based on service conditions and product being conveyed. For example, steel is susceptible to corrosion under certain environmental conditions or products, and in such an application a reinforced composite material may provide better corrosion resistance. Along the pipeline are various installations such as valves, pressure monitors, compressors, risers, etc. These allow pipeline operators to monitor and maintain the pipeline as well as isolate sections for service or in the event of an emergency incident. Some of these installations are automated to provide immediate response in order to mitigate environmental damage.

Following commissioning and start of operations, pipelines have an Active status. They may also have Deactivated or Abandoned status over their lifecycle once operations begin.

An active pipeline allows the operator to convey product provided it has met all required regulations and standards. A deactivated pipeline is a pipeline that has been purged, cleaned and isolated from other connection points. A deactivated pipeline can then be reactivated in the future, which requires an engineering assessment to demonstrate the pipeline is fit for service or the pipeline may be permanently abandoned which requires additional restoration and wind up activities as required by CSA Z662. A pipeline may be abandoned in place or removed prior to restoration works.

Pipelines in B.C. and the Lifecycle

Path Of Natural Gas from Prodution to Consumer 01
The path of natural gas from production to consumer.

The Commission oversees the safe operations of over 47,000 km of pipelines in B.C. Approximately 80 per cent of these pipelines convey natural gas, the remainder transport oil, water and various other oil and gas products. Natural gas systems start at the well and end by delivering natural gas directly to homes and businesses. Liquid pipelines such as crude oil are refined in order to deliver essential products such as gasoline, diesel and petroleum products like plastics and lotion. The 2017 Oil and Gas Reserves and Production Report includes a map that outlines British Columbia's natural gas pipeline system:

Pipelines that start and end within our provincial borders and are above a certain distribution pressure fall under Commission jurisdiction. Pipelines that cross provincial and national borders are regulated by the national regulator, Canada Energy Regulator (CER – formerly the National Energy Board or NEB):

The Commission publishes an annual Pipeline Performance Report that highlights the pipeline inventory in B.C., pipeline lifecycle, integrity management program, incidents and emergency response:

The incidents contained in the pipeline performance report can be viewed in the interactive webmap:

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