A Canadian Landowner’s Guide to Pipelines
Pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting large quantities of hydrocarbons and water over long distances across Canada. Ovintiv works directly with Canadian landowners and key stakeholders on pipeline projects where we are involved. The following guide to pipelines provides Canadian landowners with general information on pipeline construction, operations and safety.
Constructing and operating pipeline systems are guided by rigorous standards developed by CSA International, a division of the Canadian Standards Association, as well as by federal, provincial, territorial and, in some cases, municipal regulations.
To mitigate landowner impacts, prior to pipeline construction, Ovintiv surveys proposed routes to determine soil characteristics, plant and animal types in the area, archeological resources and current land use.
During pipeline construction
Pipelines are installed within a strip of land referred to as a right-of-way. Ovintiv has acquired rights to use this land for the construction, operation and maintenance of its pipelines, but the landowner maintains land ownership. During construction, a trench—adjacent to the pipeline—is used to collect layers of topsoil and subsoil removed from the site for post-construction reclamation purposes.
Once the pipeline is in place, environmental reclamation begins. Soils are replaced in the sequence in which they were removed, and the lands are recontoured and revegetated. In order to reclaim and restore sites to an equivalent land use capability, Ovintiv uses seed mixes compatible with the surrounding environment and in consultation with the landowner.
Helpful Information on Pipelines
Limitations for Land Use on the Right-of-Way (ROW)
Landowners may continue to farm the land above the pipeline with certain limitations.
- Prior to conducting a ground disturbance within a pipeline ROW, you are required to contact the provincial One Call organization in your area or Ovintiv’s surface land department at 888.568.6322. You must have written permission from the pipeline owner before starting work. The pipeline owner may have specific ‘safe work’ requirements to prevent pipeline damage.
- After contacting the pipeline owner and/or One Call, boundaries of the ROW will be marked if required (depending on your specific scope of work.) The pipeline owner is entitled to conduct onsite supervision and inspection during the process of exposing, excavating and backfilling the pipeline.
- You may not take any actions resulting in a reduction of the earth cover over the pipeline to a depth less than the cover provided when the pipeline was installed.
- Standard farm machinery may be driven over the pipeline except for heavy equipment causing trail compaction or heavy rutting. Please contact Ovintiv first to verify the activities you want to take are safe. We may want to take additional steps to ensure the pipeline is protected.
- Buildings, either permanent or temporary, and other structures, such as portable grain bins, may not be constructed within the ROW. Additionally, do not store farm machinery, crops, hay or straw or plant any trees in the ROW area.
- When considering fence construction, best practice is to call One Call in your province to assist in marking the location of the pipeline before you dig holes or place or pound any posts. Fence construction is permitted, but posts are not to be placed directly above the pipeline.
- Constructed roadways, buried irrigation water pipelines, private utility, sewer and communication lines may be installed, but you must first obtain the consent of Ovintiv, usually in the form of a crossing consent agreement. We will provide you with certain minimum construction and notification requirements. Again, you also must contact the One Call organization in your province who will arrange to mark the location of the pipeline(s) before you perform any ground disturbance activity.
For specific information on Ovintiv’s pipelines on your land, please call Ovintiv’s general inquiries line at 888.568.6322 and ask for the surface land department. Please have the legal land description for your property available when you call.
Damage Prevention and Safety Measures
There are many activities that create a ground disturbance and can cause damage to pipelines, increasing the potential for leaks, ruptures or failures.
These activities may include:
- Excavating, digging and trenching.
- Plowing drilling, tunneling, augering and backfilling.
- Driving posts, bars, or pins, topsoil stripping, land leveling and quarrying.
- Planting trees, rock picking, grading, blasting and clearing.
- Disturbing the ground—exceeding 30 centimeters in depth.
- Reducing the amount of pipeline cover.
Damage from agricultural or construction activity near pipelines is a common cause of pipeline incidents.
Ovintiv marks pipeline routes clearly and actively participates in all available provincial One Call programs to create awareness of the dangers associated with underground facilities and to reduce the hazard and risks of unintended pipeline strikes.
Pipeline leaks are extremely rare and can be very dangerous. If you notice any of the following (unusual or abnormal) signs along a right-of-way, there may be a leak. These can include:
- A loud whistling, hissing or roaring sound nearby to a pipeline.
- A strong smell of hydrocarbons or rotten eggs (odor associated with mercaptan or hydrogen sulfide).
- Vegetation within a specific area of the ROW appearing discolored or damaged.
- A build-up of frost on the ground or pools of liquid.
- Bubbles rising in freestanding water.
- Isolated vapor or mist clouds.
If you suspect that a pipeline is leaking or if you accidentally strike or expose pipe during any kind of activity (such as digging, construction and/or excessive rutting), immediately evacuate the area and contact Ovintiv’s Operational Control Centre at our 24-hour emergency line: 403.645.3333.
If there is any injury or risk to people, call 911 first.
Vegetation and Weeds
If you notice a change in growing pattern, subsidence of soil, weeds or similar changes in the ROW area, please contact the Surface Land Department at 888.568.6322 with any questions or concerns that you may have and we will give it our immediate attention.
If these issues are a direct result of the pipeline, Ovintiv may need to perform additional work (spraying, mowing, cultivating, re-seeding) to address your specific concern.
Our team of technical and environmental specialists inspect all newly installed pipelines. ROWs are also monitored on regular intervals as part of our pipeline integrity management programs.
Pipeline Safety and Monitoring
Field staff maintain the day-to-day operations and perform regular inspection and routine maintenance activities. In addition to safe operating practices and emergency response plans, well sites, facilities and pipelines are engineered and constructed with built-in safety equipment designed to protect the infrastructure, environment, workers and the public.
Other features may also include:
- Remote measurement and monitoring by local area plant control room operations or an Operational Control Centre.
- Emergency shut down valves located at strategic points in the pipeline system.
At Ovintiv, responsible development is achieved by listening to local communities, employing sound operating practices, using existing infrastructure, minimizing our surface footprint and being good stewards of the land. We strive to meet or exceed regulatory guidelines and participate in the development of industry best practices—contributing along the way, to the ultimate success of our operations and projects.
Ovintiv is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline. Our operations encompass periodic activities which may include repair, replacement, testing, monitoring, locating, inspecting and maintaining the pipeline and pipeline ROWs on a regular basis.
On occasion, we may need to enter the ROW area for these operations, however whenever possible, we will employ our best efforts to provide landowners with reasonable notice. This may not be possible in urgent or emergency situations; but every effort will be made to keep you apprised of our activity.
Pipeline systems that cross provincial or international boundaries are regulated by the federal government, primarily the Canada Energy Regulator. Pipelines wholly contained within a province typically fall under that province’s regulatory jurisdiction.
Please call the Ovintiv toll free number at 888.568.6322 if you have a question about:
- Jurisdiction over a particular pipeline.
- Guidance on the types of activities and events that should be reported to Ovintiv.
- General requirements of easement agreements pertaining to the continued safe operation of the pipeline (prohibited land uses and allowances for structures).
- Guidelines and service standards for processing crossing requests.
- Regulatory requirements and the consequences of non-compliance.
Responsible Pipeline Abandonment
Ovintiv owns three pipelines regulated by the Canada Energy Regulator—the Tupper Hythe and Mid Tupper pipelines in Alberta and the Deep Panuke pipeline in Nova Scotia. The Deep Panuke pipeline also is regulated by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.
The Canada Energy Regulator requires pipeline owners formally prepare for future pipeline abandonment. As part of Ovintiv’s operations of these pipelines, plans are in place to responsibly abandon them at the end of their economic life.
In 2008, the National Energy Board (predecessor of Canada Energy Regulator) began an initiative to ensure all owners of National Energy Board regulated pipelines have financial mechanisms in place to pay for future pipeline abandonment, ensuring funds are available when needed.
For further information on pipeline abandonment estimates and corresponding financial mechanisms for end of economic life for each pipeline, please see the Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) reporting forms for the Tupper Hythe, Mid Tupper and Deep Panuke.
The following documents contain information related to the Canada Energy Regulator pipeline abandonment process:
Contact Ovintiv (emergencies only):
(Grande Prairie, AB and Dawson Creek, BC areas)
Ovintiv Courtesy Matters:
888.568.6322 (toll free)
Alberta One-Call – Click before you dig:
800.242.3447 (toll free)
BC One Call:
800.474.6886 (toll free)
Alberta: Alberta Energy Regulator
Customer Contact Center 855.297.8311 (toll free)
British Columbia: Oil and Gas Commission
24-hour Incident Reporting 800.663.3456 (toll free)
In Nova Scotia, please contact the Canada Energy Regulator as listed below:
Canada Energy Regulator
800.899.1265 (toll free)