Pipeline Profiles: Trans Mountain

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2020

The Trans Mountain Pipeline, approximately 1150 kilometers long, transports crude oil and refined petroleum products from Edmonton, Alberta to refineries and terminals in British Columbia and Washington State. Crude oil is also shipped to offshore markets in Asia and the U.S. west coast via the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Trans Mountain started operations in 1953 and is unique among the major pipelines out of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in that it ships the full spectrum of oils (from refined petroleum products to heavy crude oil) in a single line.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline has oil receipt points at Edmonton, Alberta and Kamloops, B.C. At Kamloops it also delivers products. At the Sumas delivery point, the Trans Mountain Pipeline connects with the Puget Sound Pipeline, owned by Trans Mountain Pipeline (Puget Sound) LLC, which delivers oil to four refineries on the west coast of Washington State.

At the Burnaby Terminal, connecting pipelines enable deliveries of crude oil and refined petroleum products to Parkland’s Burnaby Refinery and to Suncor’s Burrard refined products marketing terminal.

The Westridge Marine Terminal is located approximately three kilometres from the Burnaby Terminal. It facilitates marine exports from the Trans Mountain Pipeline to coastal refineries, such as those on the U.S. West Coast or in Asia.

Trans Mountain pipeline system map

Source: CER

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Official CER documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the Trans Mountain Pipeline can be found here: Trans Mountain pipeline regulatory documents [Folder 454627].

You can see the Trans Mountain 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 see a map on Trans Mountain’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.

Nomination and Verification Procedures

Section updated June 2020

Pipeline tariffs specify the procedures by which shippers are to submit nominations for transportation service, including the form and timing of nominations. The tariffs also set out the rights and authorities of pipeline companies to verify nominations. The NEB regulates and determines compliance with tariffs for pipelines under its jurisdiction, which include the major export pipelines from western Canada. Pipeline companies and shippers are required to follow the rules and regulations of transportation service as set out in the tariffs.

Trans Mountain uses different types of verification, depending on the circumstances. For each shipper’s nomination, Trans Mountain requires written third-party verification from the interconnected upstream facility that the shipper has the capability to tender product to satisfy its nominated volume. Trans Mountain also requires written third-party verification from the downstream delivery destination that the shipper has the capability to remove its nominated volume from the pipeline. If a shipper cannot provide upstream verification or destination verification from unaffiliated third parties, Trans Mountain requires the shipper to provide a certificate executed by an officer that addresses both supply and destination verification.

Apportionment

Section updated June 2020

A shipper must submit nominations each month to it wishes to move its oil on a pipeline. Shippers must submit nominations for both committed (or contracted) transportation service, if available, as well as uncommitted transportation service. If the total volume of nominations for uncommitted capacity is more than what is available, the pipeline company must “apportion” the nominations.

Apportionment is the percentage by which each shipper’s nominated volume is reduced in order to match the pipeline’s uncommitted capacity. Generally, apportionment is applied equally across all shippers seeking to use that capacity: for example, if shipper A nominates 100 barrels and shipper B nominates 1 000 barrels, then, under 10% apportionment, shipper A will be able to ship 90 barrels, and shipper B will ship 900 barrels.

The interactive graph below shows data for nominations and apportionment on Trans Mountain.

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 tolls for key paths on the pipeline.

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

Trans Mountain currently operates under a three-year Incentive Toll Settlement (2016-2018 ITS). Tolls have fluctuated as over or under-recoveries of revenues are transferred to future years. Tolls are based on the quality of crude oil, the volumes and the specific pipeline path. Since January 2015, consideration of a shipper's previous delivery volumes has helped determine fair and equitable allocation of Trans Mountain system capacity.

Official CER documents related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for the Trans Mountain Pipeline can be found here: Trans Mountain Pipeline toll documents [Folder 552980].

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 Mountain estimated it would cost $368 million to do this. These funds will be collected over 40 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Trans Mountain Pipeline’s abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Trust fund balance ($) 13 411 476 26 970 075 41 891 000 56 091 000 73 246 000

Official CER documents related to abandonment funding can be found here, sorted by year and by company: abandonment funding documents [Folder 3300366].

Financial resource requirements

Section updated June 2020

The Canadian Energy Regulator Act requires major oil pipeline companies to set aside $1 billion to pay for the costs of any incident that occurs, such as a spill. See sections 136 to 142 of the Act for more information. Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC demonstrated that its has financial resources in excess of $1 billion dollars. Official CER documents related to the Trans Mountain’s financial resources can be found here: Trans Mountain financial resources documents [Folder 2949657].

Pipeline financial information

Section updated June 2020

Pipeline companies report important financial information to the CER quarterly 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 Trans Mountain’s incentive toll settlement filings with the CER [Folder 552980].

Table 2: Trans Mountain Pipeline financial data
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Revenue requirement (million $) 270 295 275 292 293 270 287 297 305
Rate base [average plant in service] (million $) 1 019 1 002 992 990 995 991 989 955 948
Deemed equity ratio (%) 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45 45
Return on equity (achieved) (%) 10.5 9.82 9.5 8.06 8.5 9.5 9.5 9.5 9.5

Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2020

The Trans Mountain Pipeline is owned by Trans Mountain Corporation, which is a federal Crown corporation. It is accountable to Parliament through the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV). As a wholly-owned subsidiary of CDEV it is governed by an independent Board of Directors.

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 Mountain’s last audit was completed in February 2008. Official CER documents related to Trans Mountain’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 571482].

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 Mountain must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Trans Mountain Pipeline 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 the Trans Mountain Pipeline since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard and select “Trans Mountain Pipeline 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 Mountains’ Emergency Response Plan, go to its Emergency Response Plans website.

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