Proposed Revision to Ontario Energy Board (OEB) Leave to Construct Cost Threshold for Hydrocarbon Pipelines

ERO number
Notice type
Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998
Posted by
Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
January 29, 2021 - April 29, 2021 (90 days) Open
Last updated

This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
April 29, 2021

Proposal summary

We are proposing to increase the cost threshold for hydrocarbon pipelines that require Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approval through its Leave to Construct process from $2 million to $10 million. This proposal would support Ontario’s commitment to regulatory burden reduction and providing a reliable and cost-effective energy supply.

Proposal details

Section 90 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (OEBA) requires that hydrocarbon pipelines in Ontario receive Leave-to-Construct (LTC

  • the proposed hydrocarbon line is more than 20 kilometres in length;
  • the proposed hydrocarbon line is projected to cost more than the amount prescribed by the regulations;
  • any part of the proposed hydrocarbon line:
    • uses pipe that has a nominal pipe size of 12 inches or more, and
    • has an operating pressure of 2,000 kilopascals or more; or
  • criteria prescribed by the regulations are met. 2003, c. 3, s. 63 (1).

We are proposing changes to O. Reg. 328/03 under the OEBA. The regulation sets the current cost threshold associated with the OEB’s LTC for hydrocarbon pipelines at $2 million. If approved, the cost threshold would be increased to $10 million.

OEB LTC approval will still be required if the hydrocarbon pipeline project exceeds any of the other thresholds outlined in Section 90 of the OEBA

For projects that do not require an OEB LTC approval (e.g., small natural gas distribution expansion projects), they are planned and assessed according to the environmental screening principles directed in the OEB’s “E.B.O. 188 Natural Gas System Expansion Report” (E.B.O. 188).

The proposed changes would not alter existing requirements for proponents to seek authorizations from Ontario ministries, authorities and municipalities needed to support the construction of the pipeline. Such other permits and approvals (e.g., relating to technical, safety and environmental requirements) would continue to apply. However, if approved, the proposed regulatory changes may impact how the Crown consults Indigenous communities for projects that cost between $2 million and $10 million that would otherwise not trigger a Leave to Construct approval. As such, as part of this Environmental Registry posting, the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines intends to consult with Indigenous communities about this proposed regulatory change.

The proposed changes would also not apply to the construction of pipelines crossing Ontario’s borders, which are regulated by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER).

Ontario Energy Board – LTC process:

The OEB LTC process is a regulatory review to determine whether hydrocarbon pipeline projects meeting the criteria of the OEBA are in the public interest. The review typically examines the system need for the project and alternatives, project costs and economics, environmental impacts, landowner matters and Indigenous consultation. An OEB LTC hearing is a quasi-judicial process where the applicant makes a case that its project should proceed. Intervenors apply to participate in the process and if approved for participation by the OEB, can test the evidence of the applicant (e.g., by asking questions which the applicant responds to, or filing their own evidence) and submitting final arguments on whether the project is in the public interest. OEB has reviewed an LTC hearings can be oral or written. Once the OEB has reviewed an LTC application and determined it is complete, the OEB’s current service standard for an oral hearing is 210 calendar days and 130 days for written hearings.

Following receipt of OEB LTC approval, pipeline companies seek authorizations from Ontario ministries, authorities and municipalities to support the construction of the pipeline.

Supporting materials

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