In a way, it’s Francis Pilley’s job to plan for retirement.
In this case, he’s leading the pipeline abandonment project at TransCanada. He aims to give people peace of mind so they know that when a pipeline is no longer needed, it is retired safely; with no financial liability to landowners.
“TransCanada has a great 60-plus year track record of safe pipeline operations,” says Pilley, manager of marketing and commercial services for TransCanada’s Eastern U.S. and Canadian pipelines. “We build and operate our pipelines and facilities to meet the need for safe, reliable, secure supplies of natural gas and oil. We also know it’s important to plan for the safe retirement of these pieces of energy infrastructure when they’re no longer needed.”
With approval from the National Energy Board in February 2015, TransCanada began collecting funds from shippers to place in each pipeline system’s abandonment trust.
TransCanada has already established several trusts, and each year, will deposit $250 million into them to cover the future costs of retiring our infrastructure.
“These abandonment trusts further demonstrate our commitment to landowners and communities, that our assets will be retired properly when they are no longer needed. This is an important next step for TransCanada to meet the commitments we make to manage our pipeline assets safely and reliably through their life-cycle,” says Pilley.
Strong maintenance and pipeline integrity programs
“Because of the relative youth of our pipelines, and strong maintenance and pipeline integrity programs, TransCanada has not yet had to retire large sections of pipeline,” says Mark Yeomans, TransCanada’s vice-president of pipeline integrity. “But we do know that time will come and we are preparing for that now.”
”Depending on the size of the pipe, the terrain and the location of a pipeline, there are various things that TransCanada and the regulators look at before any abandonment work is started.
“TransCanada must file an official abandonment application with our regulators describing how the technique the company plans to use is the most appropriate, safe and least impactful to landowners, communities and the surrounding environment. Only after regulatory approval can we begin our work,” adds Yeomans.
Communicating with the public
Pilley says that letting people know about the recently established trusts, where funds are already being deposited, will be an important step over the coming months.
“TransCanada is committed to consulting with all external stakeholders, including landowners, shippers and municipalities throughout all phases of our pipeline’s lifecycle,” says Pilley. “We intend to describe our abandonment and trust initiatives and provide information to our stakeholders in a timely manner.”
In addition to filling audited trust financial statements, TransCanada will also report annually to the NEB on the status and balance of each abandonment trust. This initiative applies to all NEB-regulated pipelines including TransCanada’s Mainline, NGTL, Foothills, TQM and Keystone (Canada) pipelines.
TransCanada is fully committed to the protection of people and the environment when completing these activities. Learn more about this commitment in the 2014 CSR Report.
Learn more about pipeline abandonment from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
Learn more about the NEB decision on the financial aspects of pipeline abandonment.