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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 50,000 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 2020 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:

Interprovincial Pipelines -- the Commission's Role

Does the BC Oil and Gas Commission regulate all pipelines in B.C., including those that originate outside of the province?

The BC Oil and Gas Commission (Commission) is the primary regulator for the majority of pipelines within B.C. Pipelines that originate in other provinces and extend into B.C. are under the federal jurisdiction of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). The Commission does maintain a regulatory role for these interprovincial pipelines related to application reviews and issuance of provincial authorizations required for construction, operation and maintenance.

Which parts of inter-provincial oil and gas projects are under the BC Oil and Gas Commission’s jurisdiction?

For interprovincial pipelines, the Commission reviews applications and, if approved, issues authorizations under the provincial Land Act, Water Sustainability Act, and the Forest Act. These authorizations are related to the use of Crown land and water resources, as well as tree cutting permits.

Which parts of inter-provincial oil and gas projects are under the CER’s jurisdiction?

The CER is the primary regulator for interprovincial pipelines, including the oversight of construction, operations, and maintenance. The CER and Commission liaise as necessary and maintain a Memorandum of Understanding.

Does this also include permitting work camps on interprovincial projects?

The Commission may authorize oil and gas operators to use land for the purposes of a camp; however, additional authorizations and permits are required from other jurisdictions, such as regional health authorities, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transportation, WorkSafeBC, etc., to construct and operate a campsite. To learn more about permitting work camps, click here.

What factors does the BC Oil and Gas Commission consider when approving permits?

Factors the Commission considers when assessing permit applications for interprovincial pipelines include:

  • Protection of public safety.
  • Protection of the environment.
  • Indigenous rights and title interests, concerns and impacts.
  • Details, concerns and/or conditions identified during environmental assessments.

What is the process for reviewing applications for interprovincial pipelines?

The process for reviewing applications for authorizations for CER regulated pipelines is the same as for projects located entirely within B.C. When an application is submitted, the Commission conducts a comprehensive review that considers land use, environmental factors, hydrology, and consultation with First Nations and land owners. To learn more about this application and review process, check out the Review Applications webpage.

Is rights holder* engagement part of the permitting process?

Yes, rights holder engagement is required as part of the application process and is intended to promote communication and collaborative engagement between proponents, land owners and rights holders prior to application submission.

Submission of an application must include application deliverables specific to rights holder engagement based on the planned activity and location of activity.

Are environmental impacts considered when permitting projects?

Yes, the Commission works to ensure projects are developed by considering the impacts to air quality, wildlife, water and land during the application review process. It’s our job to ensure both the environment and public safety are protected, and those with concerns have the opportunity to have their voice heard.

To learn more about the permitting process, please visit

Does the Commission inspect and/or continue to regulate interprovincial pipelines that have authorizations?

The Commission maintains oversight for the full lifecycle of any provincial authorizations issued. This includes compliance and enforcement and any future site remediation once operations have ceased.

Does the BC Oil and Gas Commission regulate the Trans Mountain Expansion Project?

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is an interprovincial pipeline and as such, the CER is the primary regulator. The Commission is responsible for reviewing applications and issuing authorizations under provincial acts including the Land Act, Water Sustainability Act, and Forest Act.

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