Responsible. Reliable. Resilient. That’s Canada’s pipeline industry, in good times and bad.

In part one of a two-part year-end blog series, Chris Bloomer, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association’s (CEPA) President and CEO looks at how the pipeline industry has fared in the COVID-19 pandemic.

What has the global pandemic meant for Canada’s pipeline industry?

 

A bright spot in this difficult year is that the federal government recognized all aspects of the energy pipeline industry as critical energy infrastructure. That’s a big deal because it acknowledges the critical and essential nature of the work we do – from building new capacity, to maintenance, and pipeline operations.

I’m pleased to say, Canada’s pipeline companies proved to be remarkably effective in keeping that critical pipeline infrastructure going throughout the pandemic (and they continue to do so). Operators adjusted work practices and did whatever they needed to do to keep the energy flowing for Canadians. Right from implementing their emergency response plans at the beginning of the pandemic, one important response was to activate duplicate control rooms to protect operators in 24/7 control rooms.

In addition, some of the bigger pipeline projects, such as Coastal GasLink and the Trans Mountain Expansion, had to take extra steps to protect workers in construction camps and people in surrounding communities. They needed to keep supply chains intact, so they could get the supplies and the people they need to keep those new pipeline construction projects going. And they did it safely.

 

What were the biggest learnings as the pipeline industry responded to the global pandemic?

 

If anything, this pandemic has shown us how we can work differently, and in some ways more effectively. In many cases, we’ve made step changes, and perhaps double step changes, because of COVID-19.

A lot of the lessons we’ve learned revolve around how we run our businesses. One big lesson is that we can do a lot with technology and we can adopt new technologies very quickly. For instance, we saw companies very quickly advance their two- and three- and, even, five-year technology plans in response to the pandemic.

We’ve learned to use the tools we have more effectively. And we’ve learned to use new tools to be just as effective in operations and safety, and in how we execute our business.

 

What challenges do you foresee in the coming months?

 

I think it’s a credit to the industry that they were able to keep the energy flowing during this time. But there’s been a tremendous amount of change, and there’s going to be more change. We must continue to adapt and embrace that change.

The opposition to oil and gas hasn’t gone away. So, we have work to do to make sure we have a place in Canada’s energy future and in the global energy transition. And in doing so, we want Canadians to know that CEPA members conduct business to the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.

Canada’s transmission pipeline companies transport responsibly produced energy. Our pipelines are reliable, and we’ve proven that even amid a global pandemic. Our industry is also resilient and can get Canadians through all times – good and bad. And… we deliver affordable energy to Canadians. These are our competitive advantages in Canada. But we also need to grow our industry and become global players. I’m excited about the opportunities CEPA member companies have in building a responsible energy future that will benefit all Canadians.

In next week’s blog post Chris Bloomer will reflect on the achievements the pipeline industry had in 2020.