Pipelines: Critical energy infrastructure in the pandemic crisis

Did you know pipelines are critical infrastructure, essential to keeping energy products moving during times of crisis?

Every minute of every day, pipelines deliver the energy supplies we all count on, even now as most of us heed the call to stay at home, while many others work heroically to get Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this week’s blog post, About Pipelines blog spoke with Canadian Energy Pipeline Association’s (CEPA) President and CEO, Chris Bloomer, about the role of pipelines as critical infrastructure.


About Pipelines: The federal government recently responded to a request from CEPA and confirmed the industry’s designation as critical infrastructure. (This is a designation given to all the things that are “essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government.” (Public Safety Canada. 2020)) Why is the critical infrastructure designation important for the pipeline industry?


Chris Bloomer: Pipeline infrastructure delivers the energy that provides heat for hospitals and health care facilities, our homes and factories. That energy also fuels the trucks that move food and other essential items to supermarkets, pharmacies, and to our front doors. And, pipelines transport materials that manufacturers need to make medical supplies, such as ventilators and safety equipment for essential services workers. Without energy, we wouldn’t be able to sustain our way of living or have many of the necessities of life. That’s why the designation of critical infrastructure is so important for pipelines.


About Pipelines: Does that mean employees in the pipeline industry and its supply chain will have the designation of essential services workers?


Chris Bloomer: It takes many people to build and operate pipeline infrastructure. For reliability and safety, governments classify those employees and contractors as essential services workers. The essential services designation must also apply to the workers in our ‘supply chain’. Those are the people whose quick turnaround enables companies to access essential parts and materials, whether it’s to keep operations going or to build new infrastructure.


About Pipelines: What are the essential pipeline activities that must continue in a crisis?


Chris Bloomer: Reliable energy supply sustains our lives. And proper maintenance and integrity monitoring prevent damage to operating pipelines. So, those activities are important to protecting our energy supply. We also have a few big projects, including but not limited to the Coastal GasLink Pipeline and Trans Mountain Expansion Project, being built that are part of critical infrastructure. We need those projects to continue. They are critical to Canada’s economic health, especially as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.


About Pipelines: What precautions are companies taking to keep essential pipeline workers – and the communities where they work – safe during this pandemic crisis?


Chris Bloomer: The industry’s top priority is always the wellbeing of employees, contractors, partners and the communities where we work. There’s a strong culture of safety in the pipeline industry, so our members quickly adopted all COVID-19 best practices. That means for workers involved in critical activities out there, companies are following all precautions set out by governments and the health authorities.

In addition, companies have extra safety measures under their individual emergency response plans. Those measures include limiting the intensity of activities and ensuring they don’t intrude on communities, rigorous practice of social distancing, testing workers, segregating control rooms, and much more.

The pipeline industry has a responsibility to manage all activities in a way that takes care of the environment, health and safety. And we’re here to support what governments need us to do in this time of crisis. By bringing Canadians the energy they need, when they need it, we’re part of the solution.

Thank you to all of Canada’s essential workers, from health care providers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, energy workers, and countless more, who are out there every day, ensuring we have what we need to make it through these challenging times.

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