Pipeline Profiles: Trans-Northern

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2020

The Trans-Northern pipeline is owned by Trans Northern Pipelines Inc. It is an 850 kilometre pipeline built in 1952 that transports refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation fuel and heating fuel west from Montreal, Quebec to Toronto, Ontario, and from Imperial Oil Limited's refinery at Nanticoke, Ontario east, to Toronto. There are delivery points along both stretches, including Oakville, Toronto, Ottawa, Maitland, Belleville, Cornwall and Kingston in Ontario, as well as Montreal and Dorval in Quebec. The pipeline operates bi-directionally between Toronto and Oakville, Ontario. Three other petroleum products pipelines (two Sun-Canadian and Enbridge’s Line 8) transport gasoline, diesel, heating oil and jet fuel to Toronto and other cities along the route.

Capacity varies across each segment of the pipeline. For example, from Montreal to Farran’s Point the capacity is 21 000 cubic metres per day (m³/d) (132  000 barrels per day (Mb/d)); from Farran’s Point to Belleville the capacity is 11 400 m³/d (72 Mb/d); and, from Belleville to Toronto the capacity is 10 000 m³/d (63 Mb/d). Since 2010 the CER has issued several safety orders reducing the maximum operating pressure of the pipelineFootnote 1.

Official CER documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the Trans-Northern pipeline can be found here: Trans-Northern pipeline regulatory documents [Folder 160186].

Pipeline map

Trans Northern pipeline system map

Source: CER

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Trans Northern Pipeline.

You can see Trans-Northern 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 maps of Trans-Northern’s pipelines on Trans-Northern’s website.

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 tolls on selected paths from 2005 until now.

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

Incentive tolls on the Trans-Northern pipeline are negotiated with shippers and based on revenue requirements. The annual tolls are for routes between designated origin and destination points within the provinces of Quebec and Ontario and are charged by volume and crude oil quality. In 1996, Trans-Northern’s RHW-3-96 toll settlement established a starting point for its revenue requirement, and a mechanism to adjust costs each year. Trans-Northern Pipelines Inc. earns a return on equity equivalent to the RH-2-94 formula rate plus 25 points additional return for risk. In the incentive tolls agreement, earnings above a threshold of $3.2 million are shared equally between Trans-Northern's shareholders and shippers. Shippers receive these earnings in the form of reduced tolls in the next year. Tolls are submitted annually to the CER.

Official CER documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for Trans-Northern Pipeline can be found here: Trans-Northern Pipeline toll documents [Folder 93855].

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 2016, Trans-Northern estimated it would cost $87 million to do this. These funds will be collected over 40 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Trans-Northern Pipeline’s abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Trust fund balance ($) 2 905 797 5 370 766 8 170 856 11 318 643 15 238 998

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

Trans-Northern Pipeline financial information

Section updated June 2020

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the CER quarterly or annually. A solid financial position enable 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 Trans-Northern’s Quarterly Surveillance Reports [Folder 3324407].

Table 2: Trans-Northern Pipeline financial data
  2012 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Revenue requirement (million $) 56 66 65 66 69 81 84
Total revenue (million $) 88 147 159
Operating income (million $) -15 12.5 16.7
Rate base (million $) 186.5 215.7 205.9
Return on rate base (%) -8.22 5.79 8.10
Return on common equity (%) -23.06 12.61 17.09
Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2020

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. Credit ratings are expert opinions of how likely a debt issuer is to live up to its obligations.

Trans-Northern Pipelines Inc. is owned equally by Suncor Energy Inc., Shell Canada Limited and Imperial Oil Limited. Credit ratings agencies stopped rating Trans-Northern Pipeline Inc. in 2015. However DBRS issued ratings for two of Trans-Northern’s owners: Suncor: A (low) and Imperial Oil Limited: AA.

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. Trans-Northern’s last audit was completed in July 2012. Official CER documents related to Trans-Northern’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 571616]

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 Trans-Northern must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Trans-Northern Pipelines 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 Trans-Northern pipeline since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard and select “Trans-Northern Pipelines 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 Trans-Northern’s Emergency Response Plan, go to its Emergency Response Plan website.

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