Pipeline Profiles: Enbridge Norman Wells

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2020

The Enbridge Norman Wells pipeline is owned by Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc. Norman Wells pipeline is an 868 kilometer pipeline commissioned in 1985 to transport crude oil from Imperial Oil’s facility in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Zama in northern Alberta, where it connects with the Alberta oil pipeline network. Pipeline shippers consist of Imperial Oil, as the anchor shipper, and other shippers on the last 29 km of the pipeline.

In November 2016, Enbridge shut down the Norman Wells Pipeline, also known as Line 21, as a preventive measure to investigate and address ground instability on the south slope of the Mackenzie River pipeline crossing near Ft. Simpson, Northwest Territories. In March 2017, Enbridge applied to the Board to replace a 2.5 kilometre section of the pipeline under the Mackenzie River, and to decommission the replaced section of the pipeline. The Canada Energy Regulator held a public hearing for the Line 21 Segment Replacement Project in late 2017. The pipeline was not operatingFootnote 1 from late 2017 to late 2018, but is back in service.

Official CER documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the Enbridge NW pipeline can be found here: Enbridge Pipelines (NW) regulatory documents [Folder 140186].

You can see the Enbridge Norman Wells Pipeline and all CER-regulated pipelines on the CER’s Interactive Pipeline Map. The map shows more detailed location information, the products carried by each pipeline, the operating status and more. You can also see a map on Enbridge’s website.


Pipeline map

Norman Wells pipeline system map

Source: CER

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Norman Wells Pipeline System.

Throughput and capacity

Section updated quarterly (early March, mid-May, mid-August and mid-November)

Note: The physical capacity of a pipeline is based on many factors such as the products being carried, direction of flow, pipeline pumping capacity, and maintenance work or other pressure restrictions. The actual physical capacity of the pipeline may, at times, be higher than the assumed operational capacity stated here.

Open data can be freely used and shared by anyone for any purpose. The data for these graphs are available.


Section updated June 2020

A toll is the price charged by a pipeline company for transportation and other services. Tolls allow pipeline companies to safely operate and maintain pipelines. Tolls also provide funds for companies to recover capital (the money used to build the pipeline), pay debts, and provide a return to investors. The interactive graph below shows the tolls for key paths on the pipeline since 2007.

Open data can be freely used and shared by anyone for any purpose. The data for these graphs are available.

Tolls on the Norman Wells pipeline are regulated on a complaint basis, based on a cost of service methodology. The cost of service is calculated according to the Norman Wells Pipeline Amending Agreement approved by the National Energy Board in 1998. Year-end adjustments are based on the actual full cost of service and throughput for a specific year. Enbridge determines its allowable equity return using the formula from the National Energy Board's RH-2-94 decision. Significant toll increases are attributed to decreasing throughput and increased integrity spending.

Official CER documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for the Norman Wells can be found here: Enbridge Norman Wells toll documents [Folder 305098].

Abandonment funding

Section updated June 2020

The CER requires pipeline companies to set aside funds to safely cease operations of a pipeline at the end of its useful life. In 2016, Enbridge estimated it would cost $45 million to do this for Enbridge Norman Wells. These funds will be collected over 11 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Enbridge Norman Wells abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Trust fund balance ($) 3 800 000 7 908 000 7 900 000 8 858 000 13 077 000

Official CER documents related to abandonment funding can be found here, sorted by year and by company: abandonment funding documents [Folder 3300366].

Pipeline financial information

Financial resource requirements

Section updated June 2020

The Canadian Energy Regulator Act requires major oil pipeline companies to set aside $1 billion to pay for the costs of any incident that occurs, such as a spill. See sections 136 to 142 of the Act for more information. Enbridge Inc., parent company of Enbridge Pipeline (NW) Inc., demonstrated that it has financial resources in excess of $1 billion dollars. Official CER documents related to the Enbridge’s financial resource requirements documents [Folder 2955535].

Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc. financial information

Section updated June 2020

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the CER quarterly or annually. A strong financial position enables pipeline companies to maintain their pipeline systems, attract capital to build new infrastructure, and meet the market’s evolving needs. The data in this table come from cost of service reports [Folder 305601] filed with the CER.

Note: The pipeline was shut down from late 2017 to late 2018. Therefore cost of service data are not available for 2018.

Table 2: Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc. financial data
Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc. financial data 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Cost of service (million $) 32 75 47 65 69 62 62 55 n/a 58
Rate base (million $) 113 109 110 141 162 151 128 102 n/a 157
Return on equity (%) 8.46 8.08 7.58 7.23 7.93 7.64 7.38 6.86 n/a 7.44
Deemed equity(%) 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 n/a 50
Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2020

The Enbridge Norman Wells pipeline is part of Enbridge Inc. In 2017, earnings from the Norman Wells pipeline accounted for less than 2% of Enbridge Inc. profits.

Credit ratings provide an idea of the financial strength of a company, including its ability to attract capital to build new infrastructure and meet financial obligations. The credit ratings below are expert opinions of how likely the debt issuer is to live up to its obligations.

Table 3: Enbridge Inc.’s credit ratings
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
DBRS credit rating A (low) A (low) A (low) BBB (high) BBB (high) BBB (high) BBB (high) BBB (high) BBB (high)
Moody's credit rating Baa1 Baa1 Baa1 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa3 Baa2 Baa2
S&P credit rating BBB+ BBB+ BBB+ BBB+ BBB+ BBB+
Financial regulatory audits

Section updated June 2020

The CER audits pipeline companies to confirm compliance with the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, regulations, CER orders and CER decisions. Financial regulatory audits focus on toll and tariff matters such as detecting cross-subsidies. Enbridge (NW)’s last audit was completed in November 2011. Official CER documents related to Enbridge (NW)’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 693513].

Condition compliance

Section updated June 2020

Every pipeline company in Canada must meet federal, provincial or territorial, and local requirements. This includes Acts, Regulations, rules, bylaws, and zoning restrictions. Pipelines are also bound by technical, safety, and environmental standards along with company rules, protocols and management systems. In addition to these requirements, the CER may add conditions to regulatory instruments that each company must meet. Condition compliance is monitored by the CER and enforcement action is taken when required. For a detailed list of conditions that Enbridge must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc.”

Safety performance

Section updated June 2020

The CER holds the companies it regulates accountable to protect the safety of Canadians and the environment. As part of this accountability, companies must report to the CER events such as incidents and unauthorized third-party activities that happen without the pipeline company’s written consent. For a summary of pipeline incidents and unauthorized activities on the Enbridge Norman Wells pipeline since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard and select “Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc.”

Emergency management

Section updated June 2020

The CER checks to make sure companies are keeping pipelines safe by doing inspections, in-depth safety audits, and other activities. Yet, even with these precautions, an emergency could still happen. Sound emergency management practices improve public safety and environmental protection outcomes, and provide for more effective emergency response.

The CER holds its regulated companies responsible for anticipating, preventing, mitigating, and managing incidents of any size or duration. Each company must have an emergency management program that includes detailed emergency procedures manuals to guide its response in an emergency situation. We oversee the emergency management program of a regulated company’s projects as long as they operate.

The CER requires companies to publish information on their emergency management program and their emergency procedures manuals on their websites so Canadians can access emergency management information. To view Enbridge Norman Wells’ regional Integrated Contingency Plan, go to Enbridge’s Field Emergency Response Plans website, where its plans are organized by area of operation.

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