Enbridge operates the longest and most complex liquids pipeline system in the world. Over the past decade, we’ve transported more than 15 billion barrels of crude oil with a safe delivery record that’s better than 99.999 per cent. And we 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 the tools, technologies, and strategies to ensure our energy transportation and distribution systems operate safely, reliably, and in an environmentally responsible manner. Over the past five years, ending in 2016, we spent $5.18 billion (USD and CAD) on system integrity and leak detection across our crude oil and liquids pipeline operations.
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%.
Enbridge’s operations control center 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.
Our custom inline inspection tools, whose diagnostics are every bit as leading-edge as those in the medical industry, 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 millimetre-by-millimetre 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 maintenance dig—which would involve excavation, cleaning, coating removal, pipe inspection, maintenance and repair if necessary, pipe recoating, and backfill.
We conduct all maintenance digs professionally and responsibly. And, following our own advice to the public, we dig safely.
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 along the Line 3 right-of-way 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 the Line 3 right-of-way, and these resources can be moved and concentrated at any point along the line to support a response.
Line 3 carries a variety of crude oils, including sweets, light and high sours, and light synthetics.
Shippers are permitted to ship crude oil blends or types on Enbridge’s liquids pipelines system that meet stringent quality specifications set by Enbridge, and filed with the respective regulator in the U.S. and Canada. 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.