VANCOUVER, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Canadian regulators said on Monday that an audit of TransCanada Corp's safety practices found the country's No. 2 pipeline company operated safely for the most part, but identified some key areas where it needs to improve.
The National Energy Board said the Calgary-based company, which is developing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, was found to be compliant in five of nine sub-elements of the review.
"The Board finds that TransCanada has identified the majority, and most significant, of its hazards and risks, however there are areas where the company was found to be out of compliance," the agency said in a statement.
TransCanada was found to be non-compliant in the categories of hazard identification, risk assessment and control; operational control-upset or abnormal operating conditions; inspection, measurement and monitoring; and management review.
"A finding of non-compliance may not necessarily mean that there is an immediate hazard, however a corrective action is required in order for the company's system to remain safe," the NEB said.
TransCanada, which must provide regulators with its action plan within 30 days, said it is already working on some of the findings and will include the board's recommendations in its ongoing improvement program.
"We take our responsibilities to anticipate, prevent, mitigate, and manage any and all hazards and risks associated with our operations seriously," said spokesman Shawn Howard in a statement.
The NEB launched its audit of TransCanada's safety practices in the fall of 2012, after whistlerblower complaint forced the regulator to bump up a review originally scheduled for 2013.
The agency regularly audits the safety practices of pipeline companies operating in Canada.
Its findings could give added ammunition to opponents of TransCanada's proposed $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Supporters say the line, which has already faced more than five years of regulatory scrutiny, would create thousands of jobs and cut U.S. fuel costs, while critics say it would harm the environment and hasten climate change by promoting the expansion of Canada's oil sands.
While a final Presidential decision is expected this year, the project hit another snag last week, when a Nebraska court overturned the governor's decision to allow the line to pass through the state.