National Energy Board Ministerial Briefing Binder – Status: NEB Review of the Proposed Enbridge Line 9 Reversal



Security: Protected B
Date: 4 November 2015


  • This note provides a status update on the operation of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline, including the NEB’s public review of the project applications for capacity expansion and reversal of oil flow, in accordance with the requirements of the National Energy Board Act(NEB Act).


The Project

  • The project is a re-reversal of flow of Enbridge’s 830 km Line 9 pipeline located between Sarnia, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. See map below.
  • The project will allow for an increase in capacity from approximately 240,000 to 300,000 barrels per day (b/d), and will revise the Line 9 Rules and Regulations Tariff to allow transportation of heavy crude.
  • Enbridge’s Line 9 has been subject to NEB oversight, compliance and legislative requirements since it was originally approved in 1975. The pipeline was originally constructed in 1976 to provide transport of crude oil from western Canada to refineries in Quebec.
    • Line 9 was reversed in 1998 as oil from areas such as West Africa and the Middle East became more affordable than Canadian crude oil sources.
  • Due to lower prices of western Canadian crude in recent years, refineries sought access to Canadian and United States Bakken crude oil, and Enbridge proposed the project to meet that market demand.
  • Line 9 consists of two sections:
    • Line 9A between from Sarnia to North Westover, ON.
    • Line 9B between North Westover, ON and Montreal, QC.

MAP 1: Enbridge’s Line 9 Pipeline

MAP 1: Enbridge’s Line 9 Pipeline

Application and NEB Decision Processes

  • On 8 August 2011, Enbridge applied under section 58 of the NEB Act to reverse flow of oil on the approximately 194 km long segment of Line 9A between Sarnia and North Westover, ON (Phase I of the overall Line 9 reversal).
  • While the NEB does not normally hold a hearing for projects applied for under section 58 of the NEB Act,Footnote 1 in response to a letter from a suite of environmental non-government organizations, the Board sought public comments on the project and the process it should undertake to review the application. During the comment process, the Board received Letters of Comment on the Project from landowners, the general public, non-governmental organizations, First Nations groups, government authorities, and industry.
  • After considering all submissions, the Board approved a process for a public hearing. The Board also offered Participant Funding, consistent with its usual approach for facility-related hearings. Of note, section 58 applications do not automatically require a public hearing. The Board chose to undertake a public hearing in this case given the nature of public concerns and suggestions regarding public processes.
    • The public hearing process was a combination of a written phase, including the filing of written evidence and two rounds of information requests, followed by oral final argument. The oral argument portion allowed for Intervenors to present their views on the project to the NEB Panel ‘in-person’.
    • The oral portion of the hearing took place on 23 and 24 May 2012 in London, ON. There were 18 registered Intervenors as part of the hearing process.
    • On 27 July 2013 the Board authorized the reversal and issued a letter decision and Order, including 15 conditions.
  • On 29 November 2012, Enbridge filed the project application for Phase II, requesting approval to reverse the 639 km segment of Line 9B from North Westover, ON to Montreal, QC, and to increase pipeline operating capacity for all of Line 9, while maintaining a maximum design capacity of 333,333 b/d. The application also included a request to revise the Line 9 Rules and Regulations Tariff to allow for the transportation of heavy crude.
    • On 19 December 2012, the Board determined that the application was complete to proceed to assessment.
    • On 19 February 2013, the Board approved a process for a public hearing consisting of written evidence, two rounds of information requests, and oral final argument. Again, the Board was not obligated to hold a public hearing, but did so pursuant to its authority under the NEB Act.
    • Participant Funding was again made available for this proceeding.
    • The Hearing Order included a List of Issues that the Board proposed for consideration during its assessment of the application. The List of Issues was revised after a comment period, and the final List of Issues was released on 4 April 2013.
    • To assist interested persons with the hearing process, the Board held seven information sessions for people with an interest in participating in the hearing. Any member of the public was welcome to attend. Sessions in French and English were held 19-21 February 2013 in Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal. Additional sessions were requested by members of the public and were held 3-9 April 2013 in Kingston, Rigaud, Ajax, and Longueil. The purpose of these sessions was to provide a general overview of the Board’s hearing process and how to effectively participate. Board Staff were also available to provide information about the NEB’s role in promoting safety and environmental protection and to answer questions regarding the Board’s Participant Funding Program.
    • Additional meetings were held with three Aboriginal groups through the Board’s Enhanced Aboriginal Engagement process.
  • Since 2012, section 55.2 of the NEB Act requires the Board to make a determination as to whether applicants who seek to participate in a hearing are “directly affected” by the project proposal or whether they have “relevant information or expertise”. The NEB Act says the Board must hear from those who are directly affected and may hear from those who have relevant information or expertise.
    • This was the first application for which the NEB evaluated standing for participants under the new legislative requirements. The Board received requests to participate from 178 interested persons. Of the 178 applications, 171 Participants were provided the opportunity to participate (either as an Intervenor or Commenter), while seven persons were not granted standing.
    • The Board’s decision on the parties included a fact sheet that described the Board’s mandate and jurisdiction under the NEB Act, as well as what the Board considers when it exercises its authority under the NEB Act in the Canadian public interest.
  • Oral final argument was held during 8-11 October 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, and during 16-18 October 2013 in Toronto, Ontario. The Board received 76 letters of comment and 45 written evidence submissions from Intervenors. Enbridge and 40 Intervenors provided oral final argument.
  • During the oral portion of the hearing, the Board’s Montreal and Toronto hearing dates were open to the public, and audio was streamed live via the Board’s website. Most days were well attended, not only by participants, but by interested members of the public and media.
  • Oral final argument was ended early in Toronto, Ontario, due to disruptions during final argument. Those disruptions increased in severity until a safe environment was no longer assured for all parties, and ongoing effective participation was significantly inhibited. The Board directed Enbridge, the final party that had yet to provide argument, to do so in writing.
  • On March 2014 the Board approved the reversal of Line 9B. The approval included 36 conditions.

Compliance Processes

  • There have been several process steps related to condition compliance, primarily related to valve requirements near water crossings and the need for extensive hydrostatic testing.
    • 6 March 2014: The Board issued a decision approving the project subject to conditions and commitments made during and a result of the hearing process.
    • 6 February 2015: Enbridge applied to the Board to commence operation, advising the Board it believed it had complied with all pertinent conditions/commitments necessary. Up to and after Enbridge’s application, a suite of public concerns were raised to the NEB with regard to safety and compliance expectations, including requests for extensive hydrostatic testing of the pipeline.
    • 18 June 2015: The Board acknowledged conditions had been satisfied, and imposed hydrotesting requirements for 3 segments of the pipeline to validate existing integrity information. A representative of the Board met with the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (Montreal Metropolitan Community) in-person at the time of the decision to explain the other requirements included in the Order.
    • 16  September 2015: Enbridge provided results of testing to the NEB.
    • 30 September 2015: The Board approved the results of testing, allowing the line to begin operating. This was the final outstanding condition to allow for pipeline operation.


  • Line 9A is currently operating in accordance with the terms and conditions of an NEB Order.
  • Line 9B is being filled with oil in anticipation of regular operation in the near future (1 to 3 months).


  • The NEB approved the operation of the pipeline and reversal of oil flow for both sections of Line 9 as the Board has determined that the project is in the public interest of Canada, and Enbridge has met NEB-imposed safety requirements.
    • Strict regulatory oversight continues, which may include bi-weekly ground patrols, quarterly integrity testing, and in-line inspections during operations.
  • Significant public interest remains in the Enbridge’s compliance of conditions, particularly related to emergency response and integrity testing. The public interest shown includes that from Mayors in the Montreal area. Notably, some do not consider the hydrotesting carried out to be sufficient.
  • The NEB continues its regionally-based outreach to communities to assist in resolving stakeholder concerns, and to increase public confidence in the federal oversight of the project.
  • The NEB is leveraging its office in Montreal to provide ongoing engagement opportunities for stakeholders and municipalities along the route of Line 9B. NEB staff have met numerous times with various municipalities and Municipalités regionales de comtés to explain the Board’s approach to pipeline safety and integrity, and emergency management. Of note, the NEB initiated the development of a ‘Joint Committee on Emergency Preparedness for Quebec’ where the Montreal Metropolitan Community, the oversight committee (unité de vigilance) of the Government of Quebec and Enbridge are active participants. This committee would oversee the development of a coordinated approach to Emergency Management in the Montreal area, increased capacity for local First Responders and continuous sharing of information between the company and regional municipalities.
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