How do pipeline operators prevent incidents?

Pipeline incidents can occur when there are series of failures in a system – whether it’s on the pipeline itself or the systems used to monitor and protect the pipeline. Preventing those failures from happening requires having an effective safety management system (SMS) and a strong safety culture.

Incidents are prevented in a number of ways, including advancing the materials and techniques used to build the pipelines, constant monitoring, using high-tech inspection tools and having a strong and pervasive safety culture as the backbone of every decision and action.

What kinds of incidents are occurring?

Between 2002 and 2015, 99.999 per cent of natural gas and liquid petroleum products transported by pipelines were moved safely. The goal is zero incidents – we are working to increase that number to 100 per cent – so CEPA members have closely examined the root causes of incidents.

What causes the majority of incidents?

82% of the total incidents from 2011 to 2015 were caused by the following:

  • Metal loss
  • Manufacturing or construction defects
  • Cracking

Other causes are damage by third-parties and geotechnical hazards.

How serious are the incidents?

The majority of the liquids pipeline incidents between 2011 and 2015 were small in volume (less than 8 cubic metres or 50 barrels). The single largest incident, which occurred in 2011, accounted for more than 70 per cent of the total volume spilled, and the three largest incidents accounted for more than 80 per cent of the five-year total.

In 2015, CEPA members transported approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid product. A total of 16 barrels spilled on our members’ rights-of-way. One incident, is one too many.

What is being done to prevent incidents?

CEPA members are working hard to prevent incidents from happening by collaborating and continuously improving across all aspects of pipeline operations, including damage prevention, monitoring and inspection and leak detection.

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