It’s an approach known as “defense in depth.”
And just like a chess board, from pawns to rooks to queens, every piece plays a key role.
“When we say defense in depth, we mean that there is no ‘silver bullet’ in the world of pipeline leak detection—and that’s why we use lots of different methods of detection,” says Phil Martin, an Edmonton-based Computational Pipeline Monitoring supervisor in Enbridge’s Pipeline Control Systems and Leak Detection division.
“Our goal is industry-leading leak detection. Our approach is to hire great people, develop excellent training and procedures, build state-of-the-art tools, and constantly evaluate emerging technologies,” he says. “Pipeline safety is the responsibility of everyone here.”
Additionally, multiple layers of leak detection provide an extra measure of mitigation. They include:
Enbridge’s two foundational CPM systems are our own Material Balance System (MBS), which creates real-time hydraulic models of our pipelines, and Atmos Pipe, a widely used industry software system that’s based on statistical volume balance.
“MBS is really the backbone of our automated leak detection. We know the physical characteristics of a pipeline, and we know what the pressures and flows should look like, so we model them,” says Martin.
“Using state-of-the-art statistical analysis techniques, we compare that with the data that our SCADA system is reporting back to us—and if there’s an unexpected difference, the MBS alarms, and we take action.”
With Enbridge’s CPM framework, we use several overlapping systems—chosen for sensitivity, reliability and speed—that monitor pressure, flow, temperature, and other key data from thousands of points along our pipeline network.
To augment that “defense in depth” philosophy, Enbridge also uses various other automated leak detection systems, including:
“We use these various systems with a special consideration for high-consequence areas, like large population bases, bodies of water and environmentally sensitive areas,” says Martin.
“What gets me really excited is our commitment to continuous improvement—and the way we continue to push the boundaries.”
Check out our previous instalments of the Data, Detection and Diligence series:
Check back with the @enbridge blog channel for future instalments of our Data, Detection and Diligence series.