Four pipeline innovations you may not know about

Canada’s pipeline industry has been at the forefront of innovation and technological change for many decades. From finding new ways to safeguard the integrity of pipelines and reduce environmental footprint, to getting the best value for our resources, pipeline companies continue to make their mark innovating as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.

Here are some of the innovation highlights we covered on the About Pipelines Blog in 2019.


1. High Fidelity Dynamic Sensing (HDS)


Calgary-based Hifi Engineering won the 2019 Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) Foundation’s Innovation Award for their HDS technology, which is set to become the new global standard for pipeline monitoring. HDS uses specialized fibre optics (not to be confused with telecom fibre optics), fully distributed along the pipeline to sense every centimetre, so operators can know exactly where a leak occurred or where there’s potential for a leak.

HDS sensing is a 24/7 activity, with a level of accuracy that can detect a pinhole leak.


2. Carbon capture to reduce environmental footprint


As our energy system evolves to include more renewable energy sources, Canada’s oil and gas industry is also developing ways to lower its environmental footprint.

CEPA member, Wolf Midstream is a partner in the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL), which supports carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). This will help change its emissions profile and boost the economic opportunities that come from oil and gas production in Canada.


3. Satellites that keep pipelines safe


For pipeline operators, protecting pipelines from the geohazards that can cause damage is a high priority. Geohazards are geological processes – such as landslides, seismicity (earthquakes) or river erosion – that may occur in certain geographical areas. It takes a lot of technological know-how to anticipate these hazards. And that’s where satellite technology plays a huge role in ensuring safe pipeline operations.

Pipeline operators use satellite-imaging technology to detect and monitor ground movements as small as a few millimetres per month – long before they can create enough force to compromise the pipeline.


4. Landmark industrial complex will extract greater value for our resources


If you drive a car, wear glasses, use a cell phone or many other everyday items, you’re most likely using a product made from polypropylene, which is a form of plastic.

InterPipeline’s integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene complex is now under construction northeast of Edmonton. The project is called the Heartland Petrochemical Complex. When complete in 2021, it will be able to convert locally-sourced, low-cost propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene – a high-value, recyclable, easy-to-transport plastic used to make a vast range of finished products.

Transmission pipelines continue to be the safest, most responsible way to transport the energy Canada and the world need. In 2020, About Pipelines blog will bring more highlights of industry developments and continue to keep Canadians well-informed about energy and pipelines.