Developing pipeline technology: The challenge and the solution 

This is the first post in a two part blog series about the Canadian Pipeline Technology Collaborative.

Pembina pipeline workers looking at pipe

Did you know Canada has the second highest number of pipeline researchers in the world?

With that kind of brainpower, Canada has the ability to lead the globe in pipeline technology development. But how do we turn all that innovative thinking into solutions that make pipelines safer for the public and the environment? Well, you get all those great minds working towards a common set of goals.

That’s part of the idea behind the newly formed Canadian Pipeline Technology Collaborative (CPTC). The collaborative unites the efforts of governments, pipeline operators, researchers (including academics), technology providers and supply chain partners to ensure Canada develops and deploys innovations that will make a positive impact on pipeline safety.

“The extraordinary talent across Canada plays a critical role in developing new ideas and approaches,” explained Richard Wayken, CEO of the CPTC. “(The CPTC) is about a collective focus on challenges and priorities and translating those into economic, social and environmental benefit.”

Here’s a look at how the CPTC will help facilitate faster and more focused technology development in Canada.

The challenge: Many pipeline researchers, different priorities 

Wayken explained that Canada already has “amazing applied R&D capacity.” The challenge is that research and development can sometimes be ad hoc because it is being done independently by a number of different organizations and institutions across the country that aren’t necessarily focused on the same priorities.

This lack of coordination can mean important technologies aren’t developed and deployed as quickly as they could be.

The solution: Working together on issues that matter

The CPTC has worked with industry and federal and provincial governments to establish areas where Canada needs to focus its pipeline research and development. Those areas include integrity management, leak detection and spill response.

Based on these priorities, the CPTC will develop challenges for Canada’s innovation and technology world to address, explained Wayken.

Information on these areas of focus will be shared with pipeline researchers, applied research centres and business incubators in order to align Canada’s innovation efforts. And the CPTC will connect key players in the innovation process to key players in the commercialization process (investors, for example) to help get technologies deployed faster.

“By bringing governments, industry and the technology community at large together to address the challenges and priorities of the sector, we are truly collaborating and shortening the technology to market time frame,” said Wayken.

There are also 12 universities ­– for example, the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa – that will play a key role in this new collaborative approach to research and development. The CPTC is bringing all hands on deck to ensure Canada is creating technologies that will make the biggest impact on safety.

Be sure to check back here next week for the final post of this series. We’ll explain in more detail how the CPTC is aligning resources across the country to make Canada a leader in pipeline innovation.

Learn more about the CPTC on their website or email

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 117,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2014, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.