We often get questions from Canadians looking for more information on pipelines. A recent one is asking about how deep pipelines are buried, and the answer is “it depends.”
Depth of cover (how deep pipelines are buried) depends on a number of factors, including location, type of cover, and type of pipeline. For instance, if a liquids pipeline runs under a railway it must be at a depth of 1.2 m. If that same pipeline passes under a drainage ditch, it can be at a shallower depth of 0.75 m.
These are all outlined in CSA-Z662, a Canadian Consensus Standard for oil and gas pipeline systems.
In addition to regulators referencing the standard in regulation, they may establish additional requirements within their jurisdiction.
Pipeline operators are committed to safe and responsible delivery of energy. This includes monitoring depth of cover and maintaining the area around the pipeline (the right of way). If an area with shallower depth of cover is identified – which can happen as a result of unauthorized excavation, erosion, or other ground disturbance activities, operators will restore that area back to proper depth.
There is much more to know about pipelines and utilities than just how deep they are buried. Before you begin any project that involves digging or excavation, be sure to Click Before you Dig.