Enbridge operates the longest and most complex liquids pipeline system in the world. Over the past decade, we’ve transported nearly 12 billion barrels of crude oil with a safe delivery record that’s better than 99.999 per cent. And we also know that’s not good enough. Our goal – simply, unequivocally – will always be zero incidents.
At Enbridge, we back up our safety priorities by investing heavily in pipeline safety and maintenance initiatives. In 2012, we spent more than $800 million to ensure the safety of our pipeline system – with a pipeline integrity program that ensures our pipelines are inspected, both physically and visually, for safety and reliability. We doubled the number of staff dedicated to leak detection and pipeline control systems, and we substantially strengthened our focus on the tools, technologies, and strategies necessary to ensure the fitness of our pipelines.
Government regulations for the approval and maintenance of pipelines are transparent and rigorous. With our focus on safety, and our commitment to adopting state-of-the-art technology, Enbridge meets and often exceeds those regulations – and that has earned us recognition as an industry leader.
But we know that’s not good enough. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our pipelines, our communities, and the environment. We continue to strive in the areas of monitoring, prevention, response, and new technology for a delivery record of 100%.
Leon Zupan, Enbridge's Chief Operating Officer for Liquids Pipelines, recently outlined Enbridge’s policy of transparency, pursuit of innovation, goal of zero incidents, and priority No. 1 – safety – during a national online discussion of the pipeline industry on Oct. 29, 2013. Please click here to view the online discussion that took place on cbc.ca's Your Community Blog, a national online current affairs program.
Enbridge’s Pipeline Control Centre is equipped with sophisticated, computerized monitoring and control systems that operate 24/7 and provide continuous, real-time information.
We also bolster our leak-detection monitoring system with routine inspections and aerial patrols of rights-of-way.
We’ve got numerous ways of ensuring the fitness of our pipelines. We carefully select and test pipe prior to and during manufacture. We use X-ray or ultrasonic testing of all welds made to a pipeline section during construction. We also make use of durable coating systems and cathodic protection – that’s the use of low-voltage electric current – to protect pipe from external corrosion. Internally, we add corrosion inhibitors to the oil to nullify the potentially corrosive effect of water.
And we are particularly proud of our custom inline inspection tools, whose diagnostics are as sophisticated as those in the medical industry. These tools regularly travel inside our pipelines, collecting data and evaluating the condition of the pipeline.
Sophisticated and refined, these inline inspection tools ensure pipeline safety by measuring the size, frequency, and location of even small changes in pipeline walls – as well as inspecting the insides and outsides of our pipes on a millimeter-by-millimeter scale. Using repeated inspections, we monitor changes in features over time. Occasionally, we find features that do require a visual inspection. In that case, we would perform a prevention-based Integrity Dig – which would involve excavation, cleaning, coating removal, pipe inspection, maintenance and repair if necessary, pipe recoating, and backfill.
We conduct all Integrity Digs to the highest environmental standards. And, following our own advice to the public, we dig safely. Our Preventative Pipeline Maintenance Video can explain this process in further detail.
At Enbridge, we do our very best to minimize any risk, but we are also prepared to respond to any incident, no matter how small. In case of any emergency, we have considerable combined resources at our disposal, in order to enhance response.
We have an on-call, 24/7 protocol in place for rapid response to incidents. We have significant caches of equipment and resources along our rights-of-way, and these resources can be moved and concentrated at any point along a line to support a response.
Our Emergency Response Exercise video can explain this process in further detail.
The Products in our Pipelines
In accessing Enbridge's liquids pipelines system, shippers are permitted to ship crude oil blends or types that meet strict quality specifications set by Enbridge, and filed with the National Energy Board. This includes heavy crudes such as diluted bitumen – which has been studied by numerous scientific bodies, including the highly respected and influential National Academy of Sciences, and found to be non-corrosive and safe for pipelines.
At Enbridge, we’ve been transporting crude oil produced from Canada’s oil sands region since 1968. There is nothing new about transporting this form of crude oil – and after nearly half a century, there is no evidence that internal corrosion is caused by transporting oil from the Canadian oil sands. In fact, Enbridge has never experienced an internal corrosion failure on its mainline pipeline system.