National Energy Board approves applications to abandon sub-sea pipelines
Sable Offshore Energy Project and Deep Panuke Projects have ceased production
The National Energy Board (NEB) has approved two applications to abandon the NEB-regulated parts of Exxon Mobil's Sable Offshore Energy Project and Encana Corporation's Deep Panuke Project. These projects, both located offshore Nova Scotia, had reached a stage of naturally declining production. The Sable Offshore Energy Project stopped producing natural gas in December, 2018 and Deep Panuke ceased production in May, 2018.
In its Reasons for Decisions, the NEB approved the plans to abandon the pipelines in place, saying that with appropriate mitigation, any potential environmental impacts could be minimized.
The NEB's jurisdiction over pipelines continues after they are abandoned in place, and the NEB will hold ExxonMobil and Encana responsible for the safety and security of their infrastructure.
Under the NEB Act, the NEB must hold a public hearing to consider an application for Leave to Abandon a pipeline. Given that many of the potential concerns and issues were similar, the NEB considered both applications concurrently. During the hearings, the NEB gathered input from Indigenous groups, federal and provincial departments, industry, and local municipalities.
ExxonMobil applied on March 29, 2018 to abandon the NEB-regulated portions of the Sable Offshore Energy Project, including the Goldboro Gas Plant and the approximately 200-kilometre long gathering pipeline. Encana applied to abandon the NEB-regulated Deep Panuke pipeline and associated onshore facilities, including a beach valve station, pipeline terminus site and access roads, on June 19, 2018. The Deep Panuke Pipeline runs approximately 175 km from an offshore production platform to an interconnection with the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline facilities in Goldboro, NS.
As this project falls under section 74 of the NEB Act, the NEB is the final decision maker.
- The Sable Offshore Energy Project was Canada's first offshore natural gas development and began producing natural gas and natural gas liquids in 1999. There are currently no operating offshore natural gas developments in Canada.
- Once these two projects are abandoned, there will be no operating offshore-to-onshore pipelines regulated by the NEB.
- According to company estimates, it will cost approximately $52 million for ExxonMobil to abandon its NEB-regulated facilities. EnCana Corporation expects to spend $11.7 million abandoning the NEB-regulated portions of the Deep Panuke Project.