Pipeline Profiles: NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL)

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2020

NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. owns the NGTL system, a natural gas gathering and transportation system in Alberta and northeastern British Columbia. NGTL transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to markets in Canada and the United States. The pipeline commenced operations in 1957 and NGTL came under CER jurisdiction in 2009. Prior to that date, NGTL was under provincial jurisdiction and regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) and its predecessors.

NGTL has about 1 100 receipt points and over 300 delivery points. CER-regulated assets include approximately 24 500 km of pipeline and various auxiliary infrastructure.

In 2018, NGTL delivered over 4.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This equates to 12.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) or 348 million cubic metres per day (million m³/d). Intra-basin demand has grown, and in 2018 55% of contract demand was destined for markets within Alberta and B.C. and only 45% was destined to other markets through interconnected pipelines. These markets include the Pacific Northwest and California, the Midwestern United States, and Eastern Canada and the U.S.

Key points on NGTL include:

  • East Gate – In the southeastern portion of the NGTL system, the East Gate interconnects with TransCanada's Canadian Mainline (near Empress, Alberta) and TransCanada's Foothills Pipeline (near McNeill, Alberta).
  • West Gate – In the southwestern portion of the NGTL system, the West Gate interconnects with TransCanada's Foothills Pipeline (British Columbia).

Pipeline map

NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. pipeline system map

Source: CER

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the NGTL pipeline.

  • Upstream of James River – Throughputs in the northwestern portion of the NGTL system. Upstream of James River flows contain receipts from the Horn River and the Groundbirch pipelines (part of NGTL).
  • North and East – Throughputs to delivery areas in northern Alberta, including natural gas used for oil sands operations.

NGTL is expanding at a rapid pace. New supply has entered the system, particularly from the Montney formation in the northwest portion of the system. In early 2020, NGTL estimated that it would add more than $10 billion of assets in the next few years.

Official CER documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the NGTL pipeline can be found here: NGTL regulatory documents [Folder 554112].

You can see the NGTL 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 on TC Energy’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 direction of flow, ambient temperature, pipeline compression, and maintenance work or other pressure restrictions. The operational capacity at each key point may also reflect contracts for transportation service, and supply and demand across the system. 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.

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 NGTL tolls on major paths since 2009. These tolls are calculated using the receipt firm transportation average demand rate (3-year term) plus delivery firm transportation demand rate (1-year term) to major delivery points. Major delivery points include Empress/McNeill border where NGTL connects with TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline and Foothills Saskatchewan; the Alberta-BC border where NGTL connects with Foothills BC; and the Gordondale border/Boundary Lake border. Tolls on NGTL have been increasing since 2012, particularly with expansions to enable increasing throughputs. The combination of higher throughput and billing determinants in 2018 and a substantive regulatory amortization credit that was carried over from 2017 to 2018 resulted in NGTL’s 2018 final tolls being six to 11 per cent lower than the comparable 2017 tolls.

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

Tolls on NGTL are based on a cost of service model. Customers contract separately for receipt and delivery services. In August 2010, the CER approved a new tolls design methodology for NGTL (RHW-1-2010) [Filing A25890]. New tolls came into effect on 1 November 2010. Under the revised toll methodology, delivery tolls on NGTL are calculated depending on the distance and service offering. Receipt tolls on NGTL are location-specific and are subject to pricing floors and ceilings. NGTL operated under revenue requirement settlements for 2010 to 2018.

Official CER documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for NGTL can be found here: NGTL toll documents [Folder 554137].

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, NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. estimated it would cost approximately $2.5 billion to do this. These funds will be collected over 30 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: NGTL’s abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Trust fund balance ($) 101 046 000 195 269 000 298 602 000 408 397 000 527 900 000

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

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 NGTL’s quarterly filings [Folder 567096] filed with the CER.

NGTL’s revenue, net income and rate base have been growing due to system expansions and increased throughput.

M&NGTL financial information

Section updated June 2020

Table 2: NGTL financial data
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Revenues (million $) 1 117 1 200 1 354 1 506 1 614 1 767 1 822 1 866 2 007 2 152
Net income (million $) 194 196 198 232 228.5 245 281 304 349 377
Average rate base (million $) 4 834 4 878 5 178 5 671 5 917 6 094 6 526 7 122 8 396 9 252
Return on rate base (%) 8.43 8.32 8.07 7.81 7.37 7.49 7.67 7.38 7.18 6.95
Deemed equity ratio (%) 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40
Return on equity (%) 10.04 10.03 9.57 10.23 9.65 10.06 10.75 10.67 10.39 10.18
Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2020

NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of TransCanada PipeLines Limited (TCPL). TCPL has operations in Canada, the United States and Mexico. It operates three core businesses: natural gas pipelines, liquids pipelines and power generation. In 2016, NGTL accounted for approximately 15% of TCPL’s earnings. NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. and TCPL’s credit ratings remain investment grade.

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: NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. credit ratings
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2017 2018 2019
DBRS credit rating A A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low)
S&P credit rating A- A- A- A- A- A- BBB+ BBB+ BBB+
Moody’s credit rating A3 A3 A3 A3 A3 A3 A3 Baa1 Baa1
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. NGTL’s last audit was completed in October 2015. Official CER documents related to NGTL’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 2905712].

Safety and Environment

Conditions Compliance

Section updated April 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 March 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, publicl/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 cubic metres 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 NGTL’s Emergency Response Plans, view TransCanada’s Rocky Mountain Region and Wild Rose Region plans at its Emergency Preparedness website.

Date modified: