Pipelines in 2021: Helping Canada tackle new challenges and opportunities

Through the challenges of COVID-19, Canadians gained a new appreciation for where our essential products come from, and how they get to us. This supply chain includes pipelines, which deliver the energy needed to heat our homes and hospitals and transport materials needed to make critical products used in health care like plastics, pharmaceuticals and antiseptics.  

As we start a new year, pipelines will continue to play a key role in helping Canada tackle new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.

“COVID-19 has shown just how critical Canada’s transmission pipelines are, as they have kept energy flowing through the pandemic,” said Chris Bloomer, president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). “We were there through the whole thing and we’re there now.”

 

In 2021 pipelines will support Canada’s economic recovery

 

With major pipeline projects under construction in 2021, CEPA member companies are helping recover thousands of jobs that were lost during the pandemic. Keystone XL, Trans Mountain Expansion, Coastal GasLink and the Heartland Petrochemical Complex will collectively employ more than 40,000 people during construction.

Those projects alone will contribute over $20 billion to Canada’s economy during construction, with billions more coming every year the pipelines are in operation.

“CEPA members play a major role in putting Canadians back to work, building pipelines and getting them into operation,” said Bloomer. “This is all about building infrastructure for the economy now, and for the future.”

 

Pipelines help make the energy transition possible

 

As Canada moves into economic recovery mode, the federal government is also setting new targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Pipelines, and the broader oil and gas industry, will play a key role in the transition to a lower-carbon energy future.

“Just like we are committed to delivering through the pandemic, we will be essential for manufacturing the materials for renewable resources,” said Bloomer. “Pipelines transport the materials used to make things like wind turbines and solar panels.”

As Canada sets its sights on hydrogen as an important part of the energy transition, pipelines will be needed to transport the natural gas used to make hydrogen, and to safely deliver it to markets in Canada and around the world.

“Through new technologies and processes, we will achieve a reduction in emissions over time,” says Bloomer. “We’re not shying away from it. It’s something we are focusing on.”

 

Pipeline companies are committed to continuous improvement

 

Canada’s pipeline industry is focused on reaching its collective goal of zero incidents. CEPA members work together through programs like Integrity First to share information and drive continuous improvement.

“We have the framework as an industry to come together and continuously improve our practices and procedures,” said Bloomer. “Our track record is excellent. We’ve learned from past incidents and are employing new technologies that are making a real difference.”

Technologies like high fidelity dynamic sensing (HDS), which uses fibre optic technology to improve pipeline monitoring, and satellite imaging that detects geohazards (landslides, earthquakes, river erosion, etc.) before they become problems.

“Pipeline companies collaborate. This is an organic, industry-driven process,” said Bloomer. “We’re on it, we’re transparent about it and we report on it.”

With a new year comes new challenges and opportunities. Canada’s pipeline industry will be there as Canada begins its economic recovery. It will be there to fuel the transition to a lower carbon future. And it will continue to push limits to reach its goal of zero incidents.

Delivering the energy Canada and the world need in the most responsible way.

Special thanks to Chris Bloomer, CEPA President and CEO, for his contribution to this article.