On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the National Energy Board (NEB) became the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). For further information please visit our Implementing the Canadian Energy Regulator Act information page

Pipeline Profiles: Southern Lights

Pipeline system

Section updated June 2019

Enbridge Southern Lights GP Inc. on behalf of Enbridge Southern Lights LP (ESL) owns the Southern Lights Pipeline. The Southern Lights Pipeline transports diluent from Manhattan, Illinois to Edmonton, Alberta where it is used in blending bitumen and heavy oil.

The Southern Lights Pipeline was placed into service by reversing approximately 1 465 km of the former Enbridge Line 13, and constructing 1 084 km of new pipeline in the U.S. The pipeline shares the Enbridge Mainline right-of-way. The U.S. portion of the Southern Lights Pipeline is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The pipeline commenced operations in July 2010. At the end of 2017, NEB-regulated assets included 1 529 km of pipeline and various auxiliary infrastructure. Capacity of the Southern Lights Pipeline is 28 600 cubic metres per day (180 000 barrels per day).

Official NEB documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the Southern Lights Pipeline can be found here: Enbridge Southern Lights GP Inc. on behalf of Enbridge Southern Lights LP regulatory documents (facilities) [Folder 441806].

You can see the Southern Lights Pipeline and all NEB-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 see a map on Enbridge’s website.

Southern Lights pipeline system map

Source: NEB

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Southern Lights Pipeline.

Throughput and capacity

Section updated June 2019

Note: The physical capacity of a pipeline is based on many factors such as the products being carried, direction of physical flow, pipeline pumping capacity, and maintenance work or other pressure restrictions. The actual capacity of the pipeline may, at times, be higher than the assumed operational capacity stated here.

Throughput data comes from Quarterly Diluent Volumes filings which are filed annually and can be found here: Southern Lights Certificate and Compliance filings [Folder 502640].

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

Tolls

Section updated June 2019

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 the Southern Lights Pipeline. The pipeline has committed and uncommitted tolls. Committed tolls are available to shippers that signed 15-year contracts, which expire in 2025. Uncommitted tolls are twice the level of committed tolls, but do not have a long-term contract requirement.

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

ESL is subject to Group 2 financial regulation and tolls on the Southern Lights Pipeline are regulated by the NEB on a complaint basis.

Official NEB documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for the Southern Lights Pipeline can be found here: Enbridge Southern Lights toll documents [Folder 613825].

Abandonment funding

Section updated June 2019

The NEB requires all pipelines to set aside funds to safely cease operation of a pipeline at the end of its useful life. In 2013, ESL estimated it would cost $100.8 million to do this for the Southern Lights Pipeline. These funds will be collected over 40 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Southern Lights Pipeline’s abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018
Trust fund balance ($) 3 300 000 6 857 000 10 500 000 14 272 000

Official NEB 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 2019

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the NEB 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 ESL’ Audited Financial Statements [Folder 614002].

Table 2: Southern Lights Pipeline’s financial information
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Revenues (million $) 58.5 65.2 81.2 87.1 97.8 106.4 105.9 113.7
Expenses (million $) 37.7 43.4 55.4 58.7 62.2 65.6 63.0 66.4
Net income (million $) 33.4 34.8 37.8 41.1 47.0 52.3 54.9 59.1
Assets (million $) 1 010.3 1 051.7 1 048.8 1 103.7 1 112.6 1 124.0 1 150.9 1 143.8

Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2019

ESL is a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. (Enbridge). Enbridge is an energy transportation, distribution, and renewable power generation company. Enbridge assets include crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines, renewable power generation, as well natural gas distribution utilities in British Columbia, Ontario, and New Brunswick. The company is headquartered in Calgary, Canada. In February 2017, Enbridge acquired Spectra Energy Corp.

Credit ratings and financial ratios 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: Enbridge Inc.’s financial information
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
EBIT interest coverage ratio 2.61 2.66 2.70 2.76 2.56 2.60 2.84Table Note a
Cash flow to total debt ratio (%) 13.1 12.3 10.6 11.3 12.2 12.3 13.6Table Note a
DBRS credit rating A (low) A (low) A (low) BBB (high) BBB (high) BBB (high) BBB (high)
Moody's credit rating Baa1 Baa1 Baa1 Baa2 Baa2 Baa2 Baa3
S&P credit rating BBB+ BBB+ BBB+ BBB+

Condition Compliance

Section updated September 2018

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 Board may add conditions to regulatory instruments that each company must meet. Condition compliance is monitored by the Board and enforcement action is taken when required. For a detailed list of conditions that Southern Lights must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Enbridge Southern Lights GP Inc.”

Safety Performance

Section updated June 2019

The Board 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 NEB 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 all NEB-regulated pipelines since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard. There have been no reported incidents or unauthorized activities on the Southern Lights Pipeline over this period.

Emergency Management

Section updated June 2019

The NEB 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 NEB 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 Board 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 Southern Lights’ regional Field Emergency Response Plans, go to Enbridge's Field Emergency Response Plans website, where its plans are organized by area of operation.

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