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Enbridge: Asset Integrity and Reliability

SOURCE: Enbridge


We believe that pipelines are the safest and most reliable way to transport the oil and natural gas that fuel our economy and enable modern society. While infrequent, spills or releases of oil or gas are possible and have the potential to affect people, communities and the environment. Our asset integrity practices are aimed at ensuring that our pipeline systems are maintained in the condition they were designed to be—so that the environment and those living around pipelines are protected, and that we can ensure the reliable and safe delivery of energy to our customers.

We take a lifecycle view of system safety, from design and construction, to prevention and asset integrity, to ongoing monitoring and leak detection. We’ve steadily advanced the use of predictive reliability modeling to support risk-informed decision-making. Instead of basing inspections solely on legal requirements or known degradation problems, our business units supplement fitness-for-service assessments with reliability models that address uncertainty and potential gaps in our pipeline condition monitoring. This combination of reliability assessments and fitness-for-service assessments has greatly improved the integrity management of our liquids pipelines and is now being applied enterprise-wide.

Our integrity management programs include specific triggers for when precautionary actions must be taken. Lessons from near misses and incidents, including incidents experienced by other pipeline companies, are shared within the Company, reviewed on a recurring basis and fed into the ongoing improvement and quality controls for our procedures and practices. Surveys also bring the voice of our employees into the conversation about continuous improvement to identify challenges, opportunities and innovations.

To underscore our commitment to our goal of zero incidents, we implemented a new voluntary industry standard (CSA Z260-19: Pipeline system safety metrics) for pipeline system safety performance enterprise-wide in 2020. The heightened transparency around leaks and releases is resulting in conversations about the cause of, and how to prevent, even very small incidents with the most senior members of Enbridge’s leadership and has been used to establish a baseline for setting business unit targets going forward. This new integrity management standard is intended to drive industryleading practices across Enbridge so that safety of our assets is demonstrated, not assumed.

Explore our commitment to pipeline safety, on land and water, through this interactive experience.

Disruptive technology for inline inspection

Inline inspection tools are highly complex pieces of equipment that use advanced sensors to inspect pipeline walls from the inside—searching for tiny imperfections, dents, metal loss, corrosion or cracking.

Enbridge and NDT Global have developed a next-generation crack tool (NGCT) to support our inspection efforts. The technology examines the pipe wall’s interior from different angles, and detects and sizes previously undetectable features that warrant a closer look. Ultimately, this means better fitness-for-purpose assessments on our pipeline network and reduced water usage by proving line integrity without the need for hydrostatic testing. The NGCT collected 239 Terabytes of data in inspecting about 524 kilometers of pipe along our mainline crude oil and liquids network in 2020, allowing us to ensure that our pipeline network is reliable and safer than ever.

Drone-based aerial right-of-way surveillance

Our use of drones has expanded rapidly since we started using them across the Company in 2018. Drone operations now include flood monitoring, construction monitoring, survey work and 3D mapping. We’re also supporting development of new capabilities, such as beyond visual line-of-sight operation (BVLOS), which would open up a range of new uses.

In 2020, Enbridge team members participated in two key initiatives to advance BVLOS capabilities. In the U.S., we’re involved in a collaborative project, sponsored by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Pipelines Research Council International (PRCI), which is demonstrating automated detection of threats to pipeline operations on a long-endurance (17 hours) unmanned platform.

In Canada, we’ve been supporting efforts enabled by Transport Canada, who issued the first BVLOS permit for inspecting remote oil and gas assets in civilian airspace to Alberta-based Canadian drones. Late in 2020, we successfully completed an eight-kilometer BVLOS flight over a stretch of Enbridge’s pipeline right-of-way in the Athabasca region, capturing high-resolution visible and thermal imagery, while demonstrating airline-grade safety infrastructure.

Emergency preparedness and response

While we plan for safe, reliable, incident-free operations, potential threats to our business can come in many forms—including pandemics, natural disasters or emergencies involving workers and damage to oil and gas facilities—and we must be prepared. As an operator of critical energy infrastructure, we have measures in place to anticipate risks, and to respond to and minimize impacts should an incident occur.

Our emergency preparedness and response systems are regularly tested and enhanced through our experience and learnings, and through industry best practice. We partner with local first responders, emergency management groups, industry associations and provincial/state and federal agencies to ensure our preparations are sound and the coordination will be effective in the event of an incident. 

Employees and contractors are well trained and equipped to ensure a safe, rapid and effective response. We also maintain the Enbridge Enterprise Emergency Response Team (E3RT), a cross-business unit group trained to respond to large-scale events in Canada and the U.S.

In 2020, we conducted more than 186 exercises and emergency response drills based on real-life scenarios to hone our skills and capabilities. We took a big step forward by greatly increasing Indigenous participation in these training exercises. We also created a new incident notification protocol for informing Indigenous communities and small communities about incidents.

Read Enbridge's full 2020 Sustainability Report

Tweet me: .@Enbridge takes a lifecycle view of system safety, from design & construction, to prevention & asset integrity, to ongoing monitoring & leak detection. They’ve advanced the use of predictive reliability modeling to support risk-informed decision-making.


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