How data is helping pipeline companies monitor water crossings

There is nothing like getting out for a walk after work on a warm spring day. The sun is still shining, the snow is all melting, and the rivers and streams that you stroll past are all rushing.

It’s serene and relaxing.

Unless you work for a pipeline operator and it’s your job to make sure those pipelines operate safely, day in and day out. In which case you see the fast and rising rivers as a geohazard that can erode riverbanks and beds, potentially exposing pipelines, and creating additional wear-and-tear on the pipe.

Fortunately, there have been many advancements in monitoring technology over the years that have increased the ability of pipeline operators to measure stress and the effect that increased water flow is having on pipelines.

One of these advancements is gX Insight, a joint initiative of Explore Integrity and GDM Pipelines which is specifically designed to bring together in-field execution and information management for pipeline integrity programs.

To get more information on gX Insight and how it leads to safer pipelines, we spoke with GDM’s Jennifer Thornton.

Jennifer says the goal of gX Insight is to help industry mitigate risks associated with pipeline water crossings.

“We begin by identifying the location of all pipeline water crossings, and then apply a calculation to rank these crossings based on a number of factors,” she said. Those factors include the pipeline’s age, the size of the water body it crosses, the substance that is flowing through the pipeline and what material the pipeline is made of.

“This gives companies a complete listing of water crossings, including a prioritized and categorized view, which enables them to identify where there is the highest potential for failure.”

Once the list is in place, constant monitoring must be done since water bodies change over time.

gX Insight has implemented a process using real-time gauge station and hydrology data – leveraging big data to protect water crossings by collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of data points.

“This enables us to immediately identify any pipelines that could be impacted by a high-water event, thus allowing companies to proactively implement plans to mitigate any potential issues before they occur,” Thornton said.

“Identifying and managing pipeline water crossings is a crucial part of any pipeline integrity program,” Thornton said. “Our goal is to help with this by identifying and prioritizing critical areas of focus.”

CEPA members are committed to safely and responsibly delivering the energy that Canadians use every day. Learn more about how CEPA members protect water crossings.