Pipeline performance: Why sharing knowledge matters

This is the first in a series of blog posts about the performance of the pipeline industry as detailed in the 2018 Transmission Pipeline Industry Report. You can read the full report at pr18.cepa.com.

In June 2018, researchers deliberately spilled a small amount of crude oil and diluted bitumen into a carefully-contained lake near Kenora, Ont.

The product remained in the water for 72 hours before being professionally cleaned by oil-spill responders. Now, researchers are examining how the ecosystem is responding. The experiment will deepen pipeline operators’ knowledge of how microbes degrade oil in marine environments, ultimately improving techniques for cleaning up oil spills.

The experiment, the Freshwater Oil Spill Remediation Study, is a collaboration between Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area.

It is just one of many highlights in the 2018 Transmission Pipeline Industry Performance Report, which outlines CEPA members’ performance and statistics in 2017 in the areas Canadians told CEPA they want to know about, including incidents.


Improving performance through collaboration


This year’s report, which was released September 26, demonstrates how CEPA members are collaborating in 10 priority areas to reach their goal of zero incidents. These priority areas – from water protection to security – are established through CEPA Integrity First® (Integrity First), which is the industry’s program for continually improving systems and operations.

“Integrity First is really the cornerstone of how we get to zero incidents,” says Terrance Kutryk, former CEPA board chair and a member of the Integrity First advisory group.

Through Integrity First, CEPA members in each priority area, systematically create and follow guidance, self-assess against the guidance and commit to third-party verification.  This leads to continual improvement where members can share their knowledge and innovations to collectively improve their performance in the priority areas that matter most to Canadians.


What the data says


The performance report outlines the key statistics from 2017, including:

  • The total distance of CEPA members’ pipelines in Canada increased to a new total of nearly 118,000 kilometers
  • More than 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and more than 5.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was safely delivered by our members
  • Total incidents are down by 50 per cent over the last 5 years
  • Rate of barrels recovered post-incident are at a new high, demonstrating we can minimize the impact when an incident does occur
  • Emergency preparedness is increasing through exercises and training


Three significant incidents were reported, two of those due to external influences. CEPA members are working hard to achieve zero incidents, but even three incidents are too many. The pipeline industry is confident that our goal of zero is achievable through Integrity First.

That’s why we continue to perform research, collaborate with each other and other organizations, and transparently report on our progress as an industry. It’s only through working together and identifying where we need to improve that we will be successful.

“We don’t compete on safety. What we’re trying to do is ensure a rising tide raises all ships by reporting to each other,” says Kutryk.

Learn more about Integrity First in our blogs about third-party verification and how CEPA is driving continuous improvement in this short video.