The Trans Mountain Expansion Project, located in Alberta and BC, is regulated, principally by the National Energy Board (NEB or the Board). The NEB, an independent federal agency established in 1959 regulates the construction and operation of interprovincial and international oil and gas pipelines.
In June 2012, Trans Mountain filed an application with the NEB for tolls that would be implemented on the TMEP and in May 2013, the Board approved these contract terms and toll structure. This approval reinforces market support for the Project and provided Trans Mountain with the necessary economic incentive to proceed with design, consultation and regulatory applications for the Project.
The Project will require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) pursuant to Section 52 of the NEB Act to permit construction and operation of the expanded TMPL system. A comprehensive Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA) and a public hearing is required as part of the NEB regulatory process for the Project. The Section 52 application forms the basis for the regulatory process and public hearing for the Project.
The CPCN application, filed on December 16, 2013 consists of eight volumes, including the ESA, risk assessments and an overview of the Aboriginal and stakeholder engagement carried out by Trans Mountain. This information addresses the filing requirements contained in the National Energy Board Act and as outlined in the Board’s Filing Manual. It also addresses the information required under section 19(1) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 . As well, the Board released a project-specific List of Issues on July 29, 2013. The ESA also addresses the NEB’s Filing Requirements Related to the Potential Environmental and Socio-Economic Effects of Increased Marine Shipping Activities, Trans Mountain Expansion Project released on September 10, 2013.
In addition to the federal authorizations, Trans Mountain is participating in Transport Canada’s voluntary Technical Review Process of Marine Terminal Systems and Transshipment Sites (TERMPOL) process to address the increase in marine traffic to offload product from the Project. The TERMPOL process will take into consideration the operating systems and protocols associated with existing marine transportation, and examine the implications of the possible increase in marine vessel traffic to offload the product transported by the Project. This is an operational review process led by a federal interdepartmental committee tasked with precisely and reliably measuring the navigational risks associated with the location and operation of the marine terminals for large oil tankers. The intent of the TERMPOL is to ameliorate elements of a project proposal that, in certain circumstances, could threaten the integrity of a ship’s hull and its cargo containment system and, consequently, the environment near the ship while it is navigating waters under Canadian jurisdiction.
In early April 2014, the NEB determined the Application is complete and issued a Hearing Order, which lays out the key steps and schedule for the process to consider the Project. In August 2014, the NEB updated the hearing schedule.
The NEB also released the list of 1,650 participants for this process, including Intervenors and Commentors. There are 400 Intervenors with full process rights and responsibilities - the most ever to participate in an NEB hearing.
Key steps in the process include the submission of Information Requests (IRs) by the NEB and Intervenors, and IR responses from Trans Mountain. On May 14, 2014 Trans Mountain filed its response to an initial round of IRs from the Board. The NEB has scheduled several rounds of question-and-answer exchanges.
The process also includes an oral hearing of Aboriginal traditional evidence in 2014, and an oral argument about the project as whole in the summer of 2015.
The National Energy Board has 15 months to complete its review. In August 2014, the NEB issued a revised hearing schedule which extended its review process by 7 months to allow for the submission of supplemental materials related to the Westridge Delivery Pipeline (Burnaby Mountain route option) to be filed. The revised schedule shifts the NEB submission of a recommendation to the Federal Cabinet to January 2016. Subject to receipt of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), Trans Mountain plans to begin construction in 2016 and go into service in 2018.
Information about the NEB’s hearing process can be seen on the board's website. To receive hearing process updates, you can sign up to receive email updates from the NEB about the NEB hearing process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project here.
In addition to the hearing process, Trans Mountain will continue to actively engage with Aboriginal communities, landowners and many other potentially affected individuals and groups.