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: Westcoast or BC Pipeline

Pipeline system and key points

Section updated June 2019

The Westcoast Transmission System (Westcoast) is also known as Enbridge’s BC Pipeline. It transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in British Columbia and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States. Westcoast extends from points in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Alberta and British Columbia, to the Canada-U.S. border near Huntingdon, British Columbia. At the border Westcoast connects to Williams Northwest Pipeline, which supplies natural gas to the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Westcoast also connects to the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL).

Key points on the Westcoast Pipeline include interconnections with:

  • NGTL at NOVA/Gordondale and Sunset Creek;
  • Williams Northwest Pipeline at the Huntingdon Export;
  • FortisBC local distribution system at FortisBC Lower Mainland;
  • Southern Crossing pipeline at Kingsvale.

The pipeline commenced operations in 1957. In 2017, regulated assets included 5 825 km of pipeline, and various auxiliary infrastructures.

Official NEB documents related to the construction, operation and maintenance of Westcoast can be found here: Westcoast pipeline regulatory documents [Folder 90718].

You can see Westcoast 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 view a system map on Enbridge’s website.

Westcoast or BC pipeline system map

Source: NEB

Text version of this map

This map provides an overview of the Westcoast or BC pipeline.

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 September 2018

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 on selected 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.

For tolling purposes, Westcoast is divided into four zones:

  1. Zone 1 consists of raw natural gas gathering or transmission pipelines.
  2. Zone 2 consists of natural gas processing plants.
  3. Zone 3 consists of sales gas transmission pipelines north of compressor station 2, near Chetwynd, British Columbia. Zone 3 is also referred to as Transportation North or T-North.
  4. Zone 4 consists of the sales gas transmission pipelines south of compressor station 2. Zone 4 is also referred to as Transportation South or T-South.

Tolls on Zones 1 and 2 are subject to the Framework for Light-Handed Regulation (RHW-1-98). For Zones 3 and 4, tolls for 2016 and 2017 were based on a negotiated settlement approved by the Board in 2016 by Order TG-003-2016 [Filing A76606]. Tolls are based on the cost of service, are zone-based, and are term-differentiated (for example, tolls for a five year contract are lower than tolls for a two year contract).

Official Board odcuments related to the traffic, tolls and tariffs for Westcoast can be found here: Westcoast toll documents [Folder 92844].

A list of shippers on Westcoast is available on the Westcoast website (Capacity; Pipeline Contracted Firm Service).

Abandonment funding

Section updated June 2019

The Board requires all pipelines to set aside funds to safely cease operation of a pipeline at the end of its useful life. In 2016, Westcoast estimated it would cost $810 million to do this. These funds will be collected over 40 years and are being set aside in a trust.

Table 1: Westcoast or BC Pipeline’s abandonment trust fund balance
  2015 2016 2017 2018
Trust fund balance – Zones 1 and 2 ($) 8 420 548 17 523 091 27 330 240 34 528 000
Trust fund balance – Zones 3 and 4 ($) 7 433 809 15 714 265 24 585 082 30 763 000

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 Board 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 Westcoast’s Quarterly Surveillance Reports [Folder 235199]. Income statement information and equity ratios are for the Transmission division of Westcoast Energy Inc., as reported to the Board.

Table 2: Westcoast Transmission Pipeline financial data (Zones 3 and 4)
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Revenues (million $) 296 323 325 397 385 394 381 416 504
Net income (million $) 35 46 50 53 54 51 63 85 115
Rate base (million $) 1 093 1 074 1 224 1 349 1 346 1 347 1 358 1 603 2 560
Rate of return on rate base (%) 7.55 8.12 7.69 7.67 7.67 7.35 7.5 7.0 6.8
Deemed equity ratio (%) 36 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40
Achieved return on equity (%) 8.78 10.01 9.36 9.54 9.89 9.01 9.8 9.8 10.1

Corporate financial information

Section updated June 2019

Westcoast Energy Inc., carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission, owns the Westcoast Transmission System. Westcoast Energy Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Enbridge, following Enbridge’s merger with Spectra Energy in February 2017.

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. The financial ratios provided below were calculated by DBRS.

Table 3: Westcoast Energy Inc. financial ratios and credit ratings
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
EBIT interest coverage (times) 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.1 1.7 1.5 1.8
Cash flow-to-total debt ratio 13.7 15.1 16.0 12.4 12.6 11.8 13.8
DBRS credit rating A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low) A (low)
S&P credit rating BBB+ BBB BBB BBB BBB BBB+

Financial regulatory audits

Section updated June 2019

The Board audits pipeline companies to confirm compliance with the National Energy Board Act, regulations, Board orders and Board decisions. Financial regulatory audits focus on toll and tariff matters such as detecting cross-subsidies. Westcoast’s last audit was completed in August 2018. Official NEB documents related to Westcoast’s financial regulatory audits can be found here: [Folder 571548]

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 Westcoast must meet, and their status, please see the condition compliance table and search for “Westcoast Energy Inc., carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission”.

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 Westcoast since 2008, visit the Safety performance dashboard and select “Westcoast Energy Inc., carrying on business as Spectra Energy Transmission”.

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 Westcoast’s regional Integrated Contingency Plan, go to Enbridge's Field Emergency Response Plans website, where its plans are organized by area of operation.

 

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