The National Energy Board: Regulation of Access to Oil Pipelines


  • Jennifer Hocking Jennifer Hocking has practiced in energy and aboriginal law for over nineteen years, including a contract with the National Energy Board in 2000. She has recently completed a Master of Laws at the University of Calgary on the regulation of access to crude oil and natural gas pipelines.



In the past few years, a number of long-distance oil pipelines have been proposed in Canada — Northern Gateway, the Trans Mountain Expansion, Keystone, and the Energy East Project. This article describes the criteria used by the National Energy Board in approving the allocation of capacity in oil pipelines to firm service contracts while requiring that a reasonable percentage of capacity is allocated for uncommitted volumes (common carriage). It explains the economic theory related to regulation of access to major oil pipelines. It reviews and analyzes relevant NEB decisions, which show that the NEB supports well-functioning competitive markets, but will exercise its discretion to resolve complaints where markets are not functioning properly. The article also explains the economic significance of the proposed long-distance oil pipelines to Canada and Alberta despite the current low price of crude oil. The article concludes with recommendations for a written NEB policy

regarding access to capacity in oil pipelines.