Pipeline Profiles: Alliance

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2020

The Alliance Pipeline, owned by Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership, began operations in 2000. It is unique among major Canadian natural gas pipelines because natural gas liquids may be left in the natural gas stream. Alliance transports liquids-rich natural gas to the Chicago market hub. Extraction of the natural gas liquids occurs at the Aux Sable facility located near Chicago.

The pipeline system draws from 59 receipt points, largely concentrated near the northern end of the system in northeastern B.C. and northwestern Alberta. The Alliance Pipeline continues through Saskatchewan and connects to the Alliance USA Pipeline at the Canada-U.S. border near Elmore, Saskatchewan. The Canadian portion of the pipeline has approximately 2292 km of infrastructure.

Official CER documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the Alliance pipeline can be found here: Alliance pipeline regulatory documents [Folder 90699].

You can see the Alliance Pipeline and all CER-regulated pipelines on the Board’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 on Enbridge’s website.

Pipeline map

Alliance pipeline system map

Source: CER

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Alliance Pipeline.

Throughput and capacity

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

Select key point:

Select units:

Key Point Map
Key Point Trends
Key Point Description

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.

Dashboard instructions
  • Click on a key point button above the chart & map to view traffic at a different location. The map shows approximate locations on the pipeline where throughputs & capacity are recorded by the pipeline operator.
  • Click and drag your mouse on the area chart to zoom into the desired date range. Click on the Reset Zoom button to reset the full date range.
  • Click on the chart legend items below the chart to remove & add sections of data as required.
  • The key point trends are calculated using quarterly average traffic at the key point. Natural gas throughput trends are displayed year over year (last full quarter of data compared to the same quarter last year). Crude oil and liquids key point trends are displayed quarter over quarter (last full quarter of data compared to the previous quarter).

Note: The five-year average is calculated for natural gas key points using the total throughput across all trade types and direction of flows. For bi-directional key points (both export and import) the throughput is displayed for both directions, instead of the five-year average.

Looking for daily data? Daily natural gas traffic datasets are available on Open Government.

Source and description

Data Source: Open Government

Description: The above dashboard displays pipeline throughput and capacity at key point(s) along the system. Where possible, the five-year average and five-year range for throughput is shown with the current year throughput to better highlight the trends. For pipeline key points with a defined location, a map is displayed next to the graph showing the approximate key point location where pipeline throughput and capacity are recorded.

Tolls

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 2006.

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

Alliance began operations in 2000, supported by 15-year firm transportation contracts. In 2014 Alliance applied for Board approval of new services and tolls on the pipeline. In 2015 the Board approved the firm tolls and new services, and granted Alliance discretion in setting bid floors for seasonal firm service between 100% and 125% of the applicable 5-Year firm toll, and up to 125%, for interruptible service. By the time the new services were implemented on December 1, 2015, the pipeline was fully contracted under the proposed toll framework, which includes market based rates.

Shippers pay lower term-differentiated tolls if they contract for service for a longer period of time and tolls are charged by zone. Zone 1 includes all receipt points downstream of the Blueberry Hill Compressor Station near Gordondale, Alberta. Zone 2 includes the Blueberry Hill Compressor Station and all receipt points upstream of that station. Alliance also has a notional point known as the Alliance Trading Pool (ATP) where natural gas can be traded. Shippers have the option of contracting for service to or from the ATP only, or using the traditional full path service.

Under the new toll regime, firm tolls decreased about 35% on 1 December 2015. However, shippers must pay for interruptible service if they want to move additional natural gas. Previously the tariff included an authorized overrun service under which the firm shippers could move up to 10% more natural gas at no additional cost other than fuel when capacity was available.

A list of shippers on the Alliance pipeline is available on the Alliance website, (Index of Customers).

Official CER documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for the Alliance pipeline can be found here: Alliance pipeline toll documents [Folder 285030].

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, Alliance Pipeline Ltd. estimated it would cost $365 million to do this. These funds will be collected over 40 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Alliance’s abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Trust fund balance ($) 9 977 088 20 798 360 32 352 191 43 976 820 56 576 754

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

Section updated June 2020

Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership (APL) earned a return on equity of 11.26% in each of its first 15 years of operation. Return on equity was based on an approved baseline rate of 12.0% with an adjustment for cost overruns during construction. In December 2015, APL began operating under its new services offering. APL reports it’s achieved return on equity in annual compliance filings to the CER, and is required to file other information with the CER on a quarterly basis. Previously, APL was exempted from filing quarterly surveillance reports with the CER.

Alliance Pipeline financial data

Section updated June 2020

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the CER quarterly and/or annually. A strong 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 Alliance quarterly filings with the CER [Folder 2931363].

Table 2: Alliance Pipeline financial data
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Deemed equity ratio (%) 30 30 30 30 40 40 40 40
Achieved return on equity (%) 11.26 11.26 11.26 11.26 26.2 31.4 39.2 35.0
Total revenue (million $) 519 560 583 528
Rate base (million $) 1 342 1 303 1 228 1 153 1 084
Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2020

Alliance Pipeline is owned by Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership, which is a 50/50 partnership between Enbridge Income Fund (rated BBB (high)) and Pembina Pipeline Corporation. In 2016, Alliance Pipeline accounted for 4% of Enbridge Inc.’s earnings.

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. DBRS discontinued its rating of Alliance in 2015 at the request of the company. Moody’s downgraded Alliance’s rating in 2015 based largely on shorter contracts and weaker shipper quality, noting at the time that significant progress in re-contracting the pipeline led them to change the outlook to stable.

Table 3: Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership credit ratings
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
DBRS credit rating A (low) A (low) A (low) BBB Not rated
Moody’s credit rating Baa1 Baa1 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2
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. Alliance’s last audit was completed in March 2009. Official CER documents related to Alliance’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 571483]

Safety and Environment

Conditions Compliance

Section updated June 2021

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 Commission may add conditions to regulatory instruments that each company must meet. Conditions are project-specific and are designed to protect public and the environment by reducing possible risks identified during the application process.

Condition compliance is part of the CER's oversight and enforcement action is taken when required.

Conditions can be related to a specific region, or apply to the pipeline project as a whole. The map below displays the number of in progress and closed conditions mapped to economic regions as defined by Statistics Canada.

Conditions can typically be either in-progress or closed. The CER follows up on in-progress conditions.

In-Progress

This status refers to conditions that continue to be monitored by the CER. This happens when:

  • condition filings have not yet been received by the CER; or,
  • filings have been received but are under review or do not yet meet requirements; or,
  • a project is not completed and it has conditions, which have not been met; or,
  • a project has a post-construction condition, but a requirement has not yet been completed; or,
  • some conditions may be active indefinitely or refer to the continued operation of a pipeline.
Closed

This status refers to:

  • condition requirements that have been satisfied, and no further submissions from the company are required; or
  • conditions whose filings or actions apply to a specific phase that have been fulfilled as the phase is completed (i.e. a specific filing during construction phase). Note: comments on the required actions can still be received.

Source and description

Data Source: Open Government

Description: The above map displays the number of CER conditions associated with projects approved by the Commission. The map is split into two tabs which show in-progress and closed conditions separately, mapped to an economic region. If a company has no in-progress conditions specific to an economic region, the dashboard will default to show the closed conditions by region. An additional view is available which contains the number of in-progress and closed conditions that don't have a corresponding economic region in the dataset. The map regions are shaded based on the number of conditions, with lighter colored regions containing fewer conditions compared to darker colors. Conditions that apply to more than one region are double counted in the map, and these conditions will appear in the map region total and map region breakdown for each applicable region. The condition counts contained in the map navigation buttons represent total conditions without region double counting.

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

Have you checked out the CER's interactive conditions data visualization? This tool offers a deep dive into the CER's conditions compliance data and process, exploring conditions across all CER regulated companies by keyword, project, and location.

Pipeline Incidents

Section updated June 2021

The information presented here is based on CER data (2008 to current) for incidents reported under the Onshore Pipeline Regulations and the Processing Plant Regulations. New data is added quarterly. Learn more on how incident data collection has evolved since the NEB (now the CER) was established in 1959.

Companies must report events, such as incidents, to the CER in accordance with the CER Event Reporting Guidelines. Knowing what happened, and why, helps us find ways to prevent them from happening again.

What is an incident? (Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR))

As defined in the OPR, “incident” means an occurrence that results in:

  1. the death or serious injury to a person;
  2. a significant adverse effect on the environment;
  3. an unintended fire or explosion;
  4. an unintended or uncontained release of low vapour pressure (LVP) hydrocarbons in excess of 1.5 m³
  5. an unintended or uncontrolled release of gas or high vapour pressure (HVP) hydrocarbons;
  6. the operation of a pipeline beyond its design limits as determined under CSA Z662 or CSA Z276 or any operating limits imposed by the CER.
What is an incident? (Processing Plant Regulations (PPR))

As defined in the PPR, “incident” is defined as an occurrence that results or could result in a significant adverse effect on property, the environment, or the safety of persons. For the purposes of incident reporting in the PPR, events that fall under this definition include, but are not limited to:

  1. the death or serious injury to a person;
  2. a significant adverse effect on the environment;
  3. an unintended fire or explosion that results in or has the potential to result in damage to company, public/crown or personal property;
  4. an unintended or uncontained release of low vapour pressure (LVP) hydrocarbons in excess of 1.5 m³
  5. an unintended or uncontrolled release of gas, HVP hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide or other poisonous gas; or
  6. the operation of a plant beyond its design limits or any limits imposed by the CER.
Incidents and the CER

Companies self-report incidents and are expected to take a precautionary approach in doing so. This means that even when there is doubt as to whether an incident should be reported, the company must report it. The approach is, “When in doubt, report.” This is consistent with CER-regulated companies’ responsibility for anticipating, preventing, mitigating and managing incidents of any size or duration.

The CER reviews all reported incidents to assess whether companies have taken the appropriate corrective actions and to identify potential trends in incidents. Each incident is given a status indicating the current stage of the CER's incident review.

CER Status
  • Initially Submitted: The company has notified the CER that an incident has occurred and provided preliminary information. A review has been initiated.
  • Submitted: The company has submitted all of the required information and the CER is reviewing the incident.
  • Closed: The CER’s incident review has been completed and the file is closed.
Incident type definitions: one incident can have multiple types
  • Release of Substance (featured in the dashboard) - Any time a product is unintentionally released. (Releases of non-gas low pressure products in volumes of less than 1.5 m³ are exempt from reporting.)
  • Adverse Environmental Effects - When any chemical substance is released at a concentration or volume that has the potential to change the ambient environment in a manner that would cause harm to human life, wildlife or vegetation (e.g., glycol, potassium carbonate, methanol, methanol mix from hydrostatic testing, etc.).
  • Explosion - An unintended explosion
  • Fatality - Any death involving employees, contractors or members of the public related to the construction, operation, maintenance or abandonment of pipelines
  • Fire - An unintended fire
  • Operation Beyond Design Limits Includes situations, such as:

    • over-pressures - i.e., pressures that are higher than the maximum the equipment was designed to safely handle;
    • vibration beyond design limits;
    • slope movements causing movement in the pipeline beyond design limits;
    • pipe exposures in rivers or streams; and
    • introduction of an inappropriate product (e.g., sour gas in excess of CSA limits)

    Operation beyond design limit is typically linked to an over-pressure of the product in the pipe; however, if a pipe was exposed to excessive vibration and was not designed for this, this could be considered operation beyond design limits. Operation beyond design limits does not include equipment contacting the pipe, or corrosion pits, etc.

  • Serious Injury (CER or Transportation Safety Board) - Any serious injury involving employees, contractors or members of the public related to the construction, operation or maintenance of pipelines.
Are there any incidents near me?
Select range (100km):
Source and description

Data Source: Open Government

Description: The above map displays the location of product release incidents that have occured on the pipeline system since 2008. The map defaults to show incidents as bubbles which are colored based on the substance released. Incidents on the map can be re-categorized based on the most recently available status of the CER's incident review, the year in which the incident was reported, and the province/territory where the incident occured. The incident map bubble can be switched to show the estimated volume of product released, with larger map bubbles showing larger release volumes relative to other product releases on the system. The incident data can also be toggled to display a stacked bar chart of incidents over time by clicking on the incident trends button above the map. The stacked bars dispaly the number of product release incidents by year, with bar color segments corresponding to the various products released. Similiar to the map, incidents can be re-categorized by clicking on the side buttons to view a breakdown of incidents by status, what happened, why it happened, and province/territory.

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

Have you checked out the CER's interactive incident data visualization? This tool offers a deep dive into the CER's incident data trends, exploring incidents across all CER regulated companies.

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 Alliance’s Emergency Response Plan, go to its Emergency Management and Response website.

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