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VANCOUVER — Major pipeline companies will need to have a minimum of $1-billion on hand to tackle spill cleanups in Canada, under plans announced by the federal Conservative government.
The government will also move to enshrine in law the currently implicit polluter-pays principle. Both measures were unveiled Wednesday by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver during a visit to Vancouver. Current operators of major pipelines in Canada will be able to meet the financial test, department officials said.
The $1-billion threshold could consist of cash on hand, bonds, lines of credit, liability insurance and other financial assets, including third-party guarantees. New projects would need to fulfill the $1-billion requirement soon, while operators of existing pipelines will have a 12-month transition period in which to comply.
Lower minimum financial resources will be required for smaller pipeline operators, with those details to be determined by the National Energy Board.
Mr. Oliver’s appearance in Vancouver comes as the spotlight is placed on a series of spills in the pipeline industry, even as companies seek to expand export capacity from Canada into the United States.
New fines to be levied by the NEB will take effect next Wednesday, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 a day, depending on the pipeline safety infraction. Those fines were announced last year.
Mr. Oliver said there is no room for complacency around the safety of energy projects. “We will ensure that all companies operating pipelines have the capacity to respond to any incident and to remedy damages,” he said. “Our government is committed to a world-leading pipeline safety regime.”
Pipeline firms will be required to “appoint an accountable senior officer” to monitor and ensure compliance with safety regulations, and companies have already taken steps to make such appointments, government officials said.
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