The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP), 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 received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) pursuant to Section 52 of the NEB Act to permit construction and operation of the expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline system on December 1, 2016. A comprehensive Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA) and a public hearing occurred 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.
In addition to the federal authorizations, Trans Mountain participated 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 Review is a voluntary process that focused on vessel safety and vessel operation safety in Canadian waters along the shipping routes. The review examined vessel characteristics, the routes, navigability, other waterway users and the marine terminal operations associated with vessel operations. It is a technical analysis designed to assess the risks to navigation as well as public and environmental safety associated with shipping and navigation. Trans Mountain conducted a prescribed set of studies and submitted these to the TERMPOL Review Committee (TRC), which is chaired by Transport Canada and includes representatives of other federal agencies including the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada.
On December 11, 2014, the TERMPOL Review Committee submitted its report to the NEB. After reviewing Trans Mountain’s studies and taking into account Trans Mountain’s commitments, the TRC did not identify regulatory concerns for the tankers, tanker operations, the route, navigability, other waterway users and the marine terminal operations associated with tankers supporting the Project.
A complete list of the TRC’s findings and recommendations can be found in the TERMPOL studies found in Volume 8C of the Facilities Application.
In early April 2014, the NEB determined the NEB Facilities Application was complete and issued a Hearing Order, which laid out the key steps and schedule for the process to consider the Project. In August 2014, the NEB updated the hearing schedule, which extended its review process by seven months to allow for the submission of supplemental materials related to the Westridge Delivery Pipeline (Burnaby Mountain route option) to be filed.
There were 1,650 participants in the NEB review process, including Intervenors and Commenters. There were 400 Intervenors with full process rights and responsibilities – the most ever to participate in an NEB hearing.
Key steps in the process included the submission of Information Requests (IRs) by the NEB and Intervenors, IR responses from Trans Mountain and several rounds of question-and-answer exchanges. The process also included an oral hearing of Aboriginal traditional evidence in 2014 and an oral argument about the Project as a whole in 2015/2016.
On May 19, 2016, the NEB concluded the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and recommended the Federal Governor in Council approve the expansion. The Government of Canada and NEB’s recommendation will allow the Project to proceed with 157 conditions.
This final federal approval triggers a number of next steps. Trans Mountain will continue to seek all necessary permits, and is planning to begin construction in September 2017, with an in-service date for the twinned pipeline expected in late 2019. Other next steps will include a final cost estimate review with shippers committed to the Project and a final investment decision by the Kinder Morgan Board of Directors.
Information about the NEB’s hearing process can be seen on the Board's website. In addition to the hearing process, Trans Mountain continues to actively engage with Aboriginal communities, landowners and many other potentially affected individuals and groups.