In pictures: tour a pipeline construction project

This is part three of our ‘urban sprawl and pipelines’ series. In this final installment we’ll take you on a photographic tour of ATCO Pipelines’ Northeast Calgary Connector project.

The work being done on the project by CEPA Foundation member, Robert B. Somerville, is an excellent example of the kind of culture demonstrated by safety conscious organizations. Focusing on the decisions and actions of everyone within the organization ultimately drives their safety performance.

According to Mike Dale, Somerville’s corporate manager of health, safety and environment:

Safety is a huge priority for our industry, and for our company specifically. We’re proud of our safety culture, and I can honestly say that all our employees share our commitment. We have three on-site safety officers on the Northeast Calgary Connector project, in addition to ATCO’s full-time safety officer. We keep the lines of communication open with daily toolbox meetings, weekly safety meetings and continuous reporting, and we specialize in many construction techniques designed to protect the environment, such as HDD.

To show us what he meant, Mike took us on a tour of the project and showed us some of the specialized equipment used to keep workers and the public safe, and to ensure the long-term integrity of the pipeline. Here’s what we saw:

An automatic laser cutter is used to cut the pipe to size, giving it a beveled edge to help secure the weld…

Pipeline welds are X-rayed and tested

Pipeline joints are welded; the welds are tested with X-rays; and they are then sealed with a special coating to prevent corrosion.

At the start of every project, even the most experienced welders must pass a skills test…

pipeline weld coating

Side booms are used to lay pipeline into the trench. The square frames you see in the photo, at the back of each unit, provide rollover protection…


This horizontal directional drilling (HDD) equipment can drill a tunnel directly underneath roads and wetlands without disturbing them. The pipeline is then threaded through. The tunnel underneath Calgary’s 16th Avenue and adjacent wetlands is 1.7 km long!

horizontal directional drilling

Freight cars act as a sound/light barrier, surrounding the HDD drilling equipment, which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in some areas close to homes…

Noise barrier

All roadways are covered with wooden crossing mats to ensure that the soil structure isn’t destroyed by vehicles mixing topsoil and subsoils

crossing mats protect soil

The Northeast Calgary Connector project is a great example of the kind of attention pipeline operators pay to safety, and to minimizing their impact on the environment.

You can learn more about the work being done to ensure safety and protect the environment in our human side of environmental protectionblog series.

northeast calgary connector

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.