Pipeline Profiles: Milk River

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2020

Plains Midstream Canada ULC (PMC) owns and operates the Milk River Pipeline. The pipeline transports a variety of crude oil streams between Alberta, Canada and Montana, U.S.

The main receipt point on the Milk River Pipeline is the interconnect with the Bow River Pipeline near Milk River, Alberta. The Bow River Pipeline is owned by Inter Pipeline Ltd., and is regulated by the Alberta Energy Regulator. The main delivery point on the Milk River Pipeline is the interconnect with the Front Range Pipeline at the Canada/U.S. border west of Coutts, Alberta. The Front Range Pipeline transports crude oil to refineries in Laurel and Billings, Montana. Near Cut Bank, Montana, the Front Range Pipeline also supplies crude to the Rocky Mountain Pipeline, which transports crude oil from the Rangeland Pipeline and U.S. crude oil from Montana and North Dakota to destinations in Montana, Wyoming, and other interconnecting pipelines.

Milk River Pipeline commenced operations in 1970. At the end of 2017, CER-regulated assets included 69 km of pipeline and various auxiliary infrastructure. Capacity of the Milk River Pipeline is 15 565 cubic metres per day (97 900 barrels per day).

Official CER documents related to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Milk River Pipeline are available: Plains Midstream Canada ULC regulatory documents (facilities) [Folder 534348].

You can see the Milk River 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 view a map of Plains’ assets on its website.

Pipeline map

Milk River pipeline system map

Source: CER

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Milk River Pipeline System.


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 Milk River Pipeline toll.

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

PMC is subject to Group 2 financial regulation and tolls on the Milk River Pipeline are regulated by the CER on a complaint basis.

Official CER documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for the Milk River Pipeline are available: Plains Midstream Canada ULC regulatory documents (tolls and tariffs) [Folder 813186].

Abandonment funding

Section updated June 2020

The CER requires all pipelines to set aside funds to safely cease operation of a pipeline at the end of its useful life. In 2013, PMC estimated it would cost $4.1 million to do this for the Milk River Pipeline. In 2018, it updated this estimate to $2.8 million. These funds are being collected over 40 years and set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Milk River Pipeline abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Trust fund balance ($) 446 000 664 231 891 138

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 oil pipeline companies to set aside funds 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. Plains Midstream Canada has demonstrated that it has financial resources in excess of $1 billion. Official CER documents related to Plains Midstream Canada’s financial resources can be found here: Plains Midstream Canada ULC financial resource requirements documents [Folder 2986143].

Milk River Pipeline’s financial information

Section updated June 2020

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the CER quarterly or annually. A solid financial position enables companies to maintain their pipeline systems, attract capital to build new infrastructure, and meet the market’s evolving needs. The data in this table comes from PMC’s Audited Financial Statements [Folder 947464].

Table 2: Milk River Pipeline’s financial information
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Revenues (million $) 7.9 9.8 11.3 12.8 13.2 13.6 14.6 15.6
Expenses (million $) 0.38 4.4 4.4 4.0 4.2 4.1 4.5 4.6
Assets (million $) 24.3 29.7 29.4 28.6 28.2 27.6 27.5 26.8
Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2020

PMC specializes in the transportation, storage, processing, and marketing of hydrocarbon commodities in western Canada and in Montana and North Dakota in the U.S. The company was founded in 2001 and is based in Calgary, Canada. PMC is a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline. Plains All American Pipeline is headquartered in Houston, Texas. It is engaged in the transportation and storage of hydrocarbon commodities throughout North America.

Credit ratings provide an assessment 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: Plains All American Pipeline's credit ratings
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Moody's credit rating Baa3 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa3 Ba1 Ba1 Ba1 Ba1
S&P credit rating 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 whether the company has complied with all CER regulations, toll orders and other accounting, reporting and toll and tariff matters. PMC’s last audit was completed on 28 January 2015.

Official CER documents related to PMC’s financial regulatory audits are available: Plains Midstream Canada ULC regulatory documents (financial regulatory audits) [Folder 2452652].

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 PMC must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Plains Midstream Canada ULC”.

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 Milk River Pipeline since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard and select “Plains Midstream Canada ULC”.

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 Milk River’s Emergency Response Plan, go to Plains Midstream Canada’s Emergency Response Plans website.

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