How to Safely Abandon a Pipeline in Canada

Updated: Jun 22




In Canada, when energy infrastructure such as a pipeline is no longer needed, it must be dismantled by the company that owns it.


How this is done depends on the type of infrastructure but, when it comes to safely abandoning a pipeline, certain requirements must be satisfied to ensure safety.


This includes properly cleaning the pipeline as well as performing required reclamation processes.


Keep reading to learn more about pipeline abandonment and how to safely abandon a pipeline in Canada:


What is Pipeline Abandonment?


When it comes to pipelines, abandonment involves permanently taking a pipeline out of service and discontinuing its delivery of a product.


The pipeline is either removed from the ground or left in place with certain operations carried out to ensure the safety of those nearby as well as the environment.


Once a pipeline is abandoned, the right-of-way is then reclaimed and returned to a state similar to the surrounding area.


Abandoning a Pipeline in Canada: Safety Considerations


In order to safely abandon a pipeline in Canada, the pipeline should be treated as if it is still in operation.


If the pipeline is to remain in the ground, it must be disconnected from the operating facility and any open ends plugged or capped.


The line must then be cleaned and purged so that it is left in a safe condition.


Also, any surface equipment that is no longer in use by any operating facilities, such as pipeline risers, line heaters, and pig traps, must be removed.


Lastly, warning signage must be placed where the pipeline was abandoned.


Abandoning a Pipeline in Canada: Environmental Considerations


In order to ensure that the abandoned pipeline is left in a safe condition and poses no risks to the environment or public, it must be emptied and isolated.


Many abandoned pipes are left in the ground to avoid disrupting the surrounding land and soil and must be permanently maintained by the company responsible for it.


This is because an abandoned pipeline will eventually corrode and could lose structural integrity over time, creating a risk of releasing residual contaminants into the soil and groundwater.


Companies must assess the cleanliness of the pipelines and use methods to detect any of these residual contaminants.


The Pipeline Abandonment Procedure


The first step in abandoning a pipeline in Canada is to submit an abandonment request that states the intent to abandon the pipeline or segments of the pipeline.


This application should include information such as the length of the entire pipeline and the length of the abandoning pipeline.


Once the request is received, a schedule of field activities may be requested as well as a field inspection to verify that the pipeline is properly purged and cleaned.


If the request for abandonment is approved, the abandonment status is confirmed and the procedure can be carried out.


This procedure includes cleaning the wellbore and isolated gas formations from one another with cement plugs. Any groundwater zones must also be isolated from the wellbore.


The final step is known as “cut-and-cap” which involves cutting the well-casing below the surface and placing a vented cap on top.


The 3 Stages of Abandoning a Pipeline in Canada


When it comes to the actual abandonment of a pipeline, there are three stages that must be carried out:

  1. Physical Abandonment: This stage involves clearing, grading, removing soil, and remediation. It also involves reclamation which restores the land to a state similar to the surrounding area.

  2. Reclamation Monitoring: If a pipeline is removed, companies must remove all potential contaminants as well as monitor and report on the status of the reclamation activities.

  3. Pipeline Monitoring: If a pipeline is abandoned in place (left in the ground), companies must continue to monitor and report on them as well as address concerns raised by landowners and the public regarding issues such as drainage.

Pipeline Abandonment and the Canada Energy Regulator


All requests to abandon a pipeline must go through the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). This entity regulates pipelines and energy development in the interest of the Canadian public.


Their decisions and recommendations are based on economic, environmental, and social considerations.


They also oversee the complete life cycle of a pipeline project from construction to operation to abandonment. This is to ensure that the work is done safely in ways that protect the public and the environment.


NuWave Offers Pipeline Abandonment Services


Here at NuWave Industries, we have adapted our abandonment process to include pipeline risers!


Our patented Pipeline Road Crossing Abandonments are guaranteed to achieve an excellent bond without bleed water, air entrapment, particle settling, void spaces, or channeling when cutting and cementing abandoned pipelines under roadways, canals, and railways.


Learn more about our pipeline abandonment process here or contact us today for more information!



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