Nova Gas Transmission (NGTL) Pipeline

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Nova Gas Transmission (NGTL) Pipeline, also called the Alberta Gas Pipeline System. is an operating natural gas pipeline in northwestern Canada.[1]


The pipeline runs from Foothills, Saskatchewan, to Fort Nelson, British Columbia with significant lateral extensions into Alberta.[1]

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Project Details

  • Owner: TC Energy
  • Capacity: 16,800 million cubic feet per day
  • Length: 24,500 kilometers[2]
  • Status: Operating
  • Start Year: 1957[2]


The Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. system (NGTL) consists of more than 25,000 km of natural gas pipeline and associated facilities located in Alberta and northeastern British Columbia. NGTL has over 1,100 receipt points and over 300 delivery points. The average daily capacity is 16,800 million cubic feet per day. The system came under Canada's National Energy Board jurisdiction in 2009 and is wholly-owned by TC Energy. [1]

NGTL is divided into three areas: Peace River, North and East, and the NGTL Mainline. Throughput information is provided for these areas as Upstream James River, North and East Flows, and Eastern Gate, respectively. The Upstream James River's primary receipt points are Northwestern Alberta and Northeastern B.C. Its primary delivery points are Intra-Alberta and the AB/BC border. Its average daily capacity is 8,000 million cubic feet per day. [1]

The North and East Flow primary receipt points are North and East Alberta. Its primary delivery point is Intra-Alberta. Its average daily capacity is 4,300 million cubic feet per day. [1]

The primary receipt point for Eastern Gate is Intra-Alberta, and the primary delivery points are McNeill and Empress. Its average daily capacity is 4,500 million cubic feet per day. [1]


The NGTL system suffered a rupture on its pipeline system 138 km (85.6 miles) west of Fort McMurray, Alberta on October 17, 2013. TC Energy's gas control center detected a drop in pressure on a section of its north-central corridor natural gas pipeline between its Wooden House and Buffalo compressor stations. The size and cause of the leak was unknown at the time of publication.[3]

Expansion Projects

TC Energy announced a $2 billion expansion plan in 2017 and stated that the decision was based on new contracted customer demand for nearly 3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of gas receipt and delivery services. It will connect Western Canadian natural gas production to markets within the basin and across North America. Growing producer demand to connect low-cost Montney, Duvernay and Deep Basin production to the NGTL System is also the reason behind the expansion plan. The expansion program will consists of several projects that will in aggregate, include 273 kilometres (171 miles) of NPS 16 to NPS 48 pipeline, 150 MW of compression at five compressor stations, new meter stations and other associated facilities. TC Energy will file applications for the various projects with the National Energy Board starting in the fourth quarter of 2017. Construction on the expansion of the NGTL system is expected to start in early 2019, subject to regulatory approvals. While initial projects are expected to enter service in Q4 2019, final projects to be in service by Q2 2021. [4]

In fall 2016 the National Energy Board has completed the review of the 2017 NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) System Expansion Project and has submitted its final report to the Government of Canada. As part of these engagement efforts, the Government of Canada launched an online questionnaire for Canadians to submit their feedback on the project. NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of TC Energy PipeLines Limited, is proposing to expand the existing NGTL gas pipeline system in northern Alberta. The expansion includes five new and separate pipeline sections varying between 20 km and 91 km in length, for a total of 230 km, with approximately 90% of the length located parallel to existing linear disturbances (e.g., pipelines or roads). The project also includes two new compressor facilities. [5]

Opposition to 2017 Expansion Project

Saulteau First Nations v. Canada (A-G), Nova Gas Transmission, and the NEB/Blueberry River First Nations v. Nova Gas Transmission, and Canada (A-G)

Both the Blueberry River and Saulteau First Nations sought to bring the National Energy Board's approval of NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.'s pipeline expansion into north-eastern British Columbia under judicial review. Both of the First Nations claimed that they were warranted a judicial review request due to being inadequately consulted about the project while also stating that the National Energy Board lacked jurisdiction to approve of the pipeline project. However, the Federal Court refused their request and did not provide a reason for its decision.[6]

Bigstone Cree Nation v. Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. and Canada (A-G)

In 2015, the Bigstone Cree Nation, consisting of 7,752 members, filed an application to judicially review the National Energy Board's decision to approve Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.'s expansion of the NGTL pipeline system. The core of Bigstone's argument centered on the lack of proper consultation given to the First Nation regarding the project, thus violating their constitutionally protected and established treaty rights along with enshrined indigenous title and rights. Because Bigstone never had any direct consultation with Nova, there could be no possible mitigation of potential negative effects on the First Nation's intersts, nor could there be any serious accommodation of the indigenous group's needs. The band thus concluded that the National Energy Board should not approve of the project "because it cannot reasonably determine that the Project is not likely to cause significant adverse effects, or that any significant adverse effects can be justified in the circumstances."[7] Although a judicial review was granted, the National Energy Board has thus far kept up its approval of the NGTL pipeline system expansion and the project is currently under construction.[8]

In the hearings, Bigstone also indicated concerns regarding the potential contamination of traditional foods, medicine, and agricultural food crops resulting from pesticide and herbicide use and wanted to see the limitation or elimination of chemical applications. The First Nation also provided oral traditional evidence of the deleterious effects of extraction-based industry in its territory. Bigstone stated that it had witnessed the loss of whole herds of caribou, moose, deer, and other wildlife in the region and that it is becoming harder to gather the water and medicine in the area of development. Bigstone has focused on Caribou habitat and population restoration in recent years, which could be threatened by the NGTL project according to the group. Bigstone claimed that NGTL's mitigation measures were inadequate and did not address the First Nation's unique rights and interests. Bigstone also argued that the National Energy Board failed to comprehend the cumulative environmental effects of the project in its assessment.[9]

Alternative Resistance Strategy

In 2017, the Bigstone Cree Nation planned to install gates along with sentries at the edge of its territory to prevent the entry of Oil and Gas companies into their territory, along with other companies contracted to work with them. The reasoning for this plan was due to the failure and exhaustion of all other civil and legal means to "end the unjust enrichment of Multi-National Corporations." TC Energy was just one of the companies to be blocked from entering the First Nation's territory.[10] The First Nation gave the following reasons:

-The abandonment of the local economy and local companies -Disregarded Impact Benefits Agreements with Oil/Forest/Mineral Industries -Failed meaningful consultation between Oil/Gas and Mineral Industries and the ACO -Surface and Ground Water Protection - Wabasca Watershed including Aquifers -Delayed Transfer of Treaty Entitlement Lands to the Nation -Neglect of a referendum in the Transfer of Admin. And Control of Highways[10]

However, less than a month later, the Bigstone Cree Nation withdrew their plan to construct gates at the entry points to their territory. Instead of essentially creating a roadblock, Chief Auger of the Bigstone Cree Nation told reporters that they may construct tolls to generate revenue from the companies travelling through their territory. Despite the change of plans, companies like Exact were still pulling out of the area due to the unpredictable situation. Chief Auger was not worried about various companies pulling out, since the conditions were already so dire that he likened it to "living in a third-world situation." Auger also stated that "Nobody should have control of our land. It's our land."[11]

The Government responded through the Ministry of Indigenous Relations, declaring that they will "make every effort to prevent the establishment of toll gates." Auger said he was still standing firm on the idea of tolls and would further discuss the plan with the community. Auger also stated that "No government comes and tells us what to do — federally, provincially, municipally, or even for that matter, oil companies."[11]

In total, there are four expansion projects to the system, the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021 expansion project.

In October 2018, TC Energy announced that NGTL system would begin commercial operations in 2021 and 2022.[12]

In February 2020, federal regulators approved the expansion project.[13]

In December 2020, Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) reported that Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) described the Canadian natural gas industry as facing a "high degree of uncertainty". According to developers, "System flow requirements in the 2024-2025 portion of the design horizon have a high degree of uncertainty due to the influence of major market factors that are still too early in their development to predict." NGI further stated that "Political and economic risks jeopardize up to C$3 billion ($2.3 billion) of additions that the pipeline network would build if the industry fulfilled its potential, management said in a new edition of NGTL’s annual five-year capital plan."[14]

2021 NGTL System Expansion Project

The 2021 NGTL System Expansion will add 218 miles to the system, stretching from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Municipal District of Greenview No. 16 to Yellowhead County, Alberta, to Clearwater County, Alberta, Canada.[15]

The 2021 NGTL System expansion project is expected to be complete in 2021.[16]

In May 2021, Macro Enterprises Inc. said that it had signed a contract to construct the Deep Valley South and the Colt sections of the expansion.[17] This development update indicates that expansion plans are ongoing, despite developers sighting uncertainty in their proposed pipeline projects.[14]

2021 Expansion Project Details

  • Operator: TC Energy[15]
  • Capacity:
  • Length: 218 miles / 350.84[15]
  • Status: Construction[18]
  • Start Year: 2021[16]
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2019 NGTL System Expansion Project

The second expansion project, 2019 NGTL System, to be operational in 2019, would add 171 miles and 3 billion cubic feet per day of capacity to the Alberta and British Columbia area. The project includes construction of pipeline, compression enhancements at five compressor stations, new meter stations and other associated facilities.[16]

There have been no development updates since 2018 and the expansion project is presumed to be shelved.

2019 Expansion Project Details

  • Operator: TC Energy[16]
  • Capacity: 3 billion cubic feet per day[16]
  • Length: 171 miles / 275.2 km[16]
  • Status: Shelved
  • Start Year: 2019[16]

2018 NGTL System Expansion Project

The third expansion project, the 2018 NGTL Expansion, would add 55 miles and 2.7 billion cubic feet per day capacity to the Alberta and British Columbia area. The expansion includes construction of pipeline, one new compressor, new and expanded meter stations, and other associated facilities.[16]

There have been no development updates since 2017 and the expansion project is presumed to be shelved.

2018 Expansion Project Details

  • Operator: TC Energy[16]
  • Capacity: 2.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d)[16]
  • Length: 55 miles / 88.5 km[16]
  • Status: Shelved[16]
  • Start Year:

2017 NGTL System Expansion Project

The fourth expansion project, the 2017 NGTL Expansion, will add 230 kilometers of pipeline and two compressor stations. According to TC Energy, the project includes five separate pipeline loops and two compression stations.[19] The pipeline list includes: Northwest Mainline Loop No. 2: Bear Canyon, Liege Lateral Loop No. 2: Pelican Lake, Kettle River Lateral Loop: Christina River, Northwest Mainline Loop: Boundary Lake, spread 1, Grande Prairie Mainline Loop No. 2: McLeod River, and Northwest Mainline Loop: Boundary Lake, spread 2. The compressor stations include: Otter Lake Compressor Station Unit Addition, and Alces River Compressor Station.[19] The project cost an estimated $1.3 billion.[20]

2017 Expansion Project Details

  • Operator: TC Energy[20]
  • Capacity:
  • Length: 230 km[20]
  • Status: Operating[19]
  • Start Year: 2018[20]

North Corridor Expansion Project

An expansion project was approved in September 2020 by the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) to increase pipeline capacity to that transports gas to markets within Alberta, Canada. It will be constructed in three sections.[21]

North Corridor Expansion Project details

  • Owner: NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.[22]
  • Parent company: TC Energy[20]
  • Capacity:
  • Length: 81 kilometers[21]
  • Diameter: 48 inches[21]
  • Status: Proposed[21]
  • Start year: 2023[21]

Edson Mainline Project

An expansion project was approved in December 2020 by the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) to increase pipeline capacity to that transports gas to markets within Alberta, Canada. The pipeline will be constructed in two sections, and its majority (~86%) will parallel the existing NGTL system through Alberta and British Columbia. It will increase transmission capacity from the Peace River Project Area to markets in Alberta.[23]

Construction was slated to begin in the third quarter of 2021[23], though there was not evidence for this as of August 2021.

Edson Mainline Project details

  • Owner: NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.
  • Parent company: TC Energy[20]
  • Capacity:
  • Length: 85 kilometers[23]
  • Status: Proposed[23]
  • Start year: 2022[23]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Nova Gas Transmission (NGTL) Pipeline, Canada NEB, accessed January 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Pipeline Profiles: NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL)". CER. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  3. Christopher E. Smith, TC Energy's NGTL suffers pipeline rupture, Oil & Gas Journal, October 28, 2013
  4. "TransCanada to move ahead with $2bn Nova Gas Transmission system expansion" Energy Business Review, accessed January 2018
  5. "2017 NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. System Expansion Project" National Resources Canada accessed January 2018
  6. Blueberry River First Nations v. Attorney General of Canada, Case No. 36676; Saulteau First Nations v. Attorney General of Canada, Case No. 3667; Supreme Court of Canada, 14 September 2017, CanLii Connects, accessed November 26, 2017
  7. Hearing Order GH-002-2015, National Energy Board, accessed November 2017
  8. 2017 NGTL System Expansion Project, National Energy Board, January 19, 2017
  9. National Energy Board Report: NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. GH-002-2015, National Energy Board, June 2016
  10. 10.0 10.1 Chief Gordon T. AugerLetter to Minister of Indigenous Relations, Office of the Chief, February 20, 2017
  11. 11.0 11.1 Kyle Muzyka, Northern Alberta First Nation walks back on plan to block oil and gas companies, CBC News, March 11, 2017
  12. TransCanada Announces $1.5 Billion NGTL System Expansion to Connect WCSB Supply to Incremental Market Demand, TransCanada, Oct. 31, 2018
  13. Shaun Penner, NOVA Gas Transmission expansion gets go-ahead from federal energy regulator, EverythingGP, February 21, 2020
  14. 14.0 14.1 Gordon Jaremko, Uncertainty Clouds Future of Canada’s NGTL System, Natural Gas Intelligence, December 24, 2020
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Canada Energy Regulator (19 February 2020). "NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. – 2021 NGTL System Expansion Project". Canada Energy Regulator. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 16.11 Planned Projects, Pipeline News, accessed October 2018
  17. Macro signs NGTL expansion contract, Alaska Highway News, May 20, 2021
  18. C14501 NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. - NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. [GC-129 19, [AO-001-XG-001-2020] 17], Canada Energy Regulator, Aug. 16, 2021
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Overview, TC Energy, accessed July 26, 2021
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 2017 NGTL System Expansion Project, Alberta, accessed July 20, 2021
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 North Corridor Expansion Project Background, CER, accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  22. Pipeline profiles: NGTL, Canadian Energy Regulator, accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Edson Mainline Project background, CER, accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

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External resources

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