Jan 30, 2019
Our goal is for our pipeline and energy facilities to operate safely every day so that the public, our employees and the environment aren’t affected by an incident involving our assets. Safety is, and always will be, our number one value.
We aim for our pipelines and facilities to operate incident-free and to ensure our assets serve our people and communities across the continent for years to come.
Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to transport natural gas and petroleum – period. Our pipeline safety programs are among the most robust in the industry and the most important part of our business. From pipeline integrity innovations to investing in leak detection technology and public awareness programs, safety is the common link behind everything we do.
One of the best demonstrations of our commitment to safety is our long-standing and ongoing Pipeline Integrity Program. This annual process maintains the integrity, safety and reliable operations of our pipeline systems. Our process includes:
On top of this program, every kilometre/mile of pipeline, pump, compressor facility or generating station is made using proven technology and integrated, industry-leading safety systems. Once constructed, all pipelines and facilities are monitored constantly, whether that’s from inside the pipe, on the ground or from the air.
Every year, we spend hundreds of millions on integrity and preventative maintenance programs to ensure the safe, reliable operations of our systems.
Leak prevention is a top priority. That’s why we take significant steps to prevent the chances of leaks before, during and after our pipelines and facilities are in use.
It begins during construction, with each joint of pipe being factory coated with high performance coatings and carefully transported to the project location. Each individual weld is inspected using radiographic or ultrasonic techniques to ensure the highest quality welding. Qualified onsite inspectors visually inspect every phase of the installation process including lowering the pipe into the ditch, and then backfilling.
Once installed, a low voltage electrical current is applied to the pipeline to prevent corrosion and the pipe is tested with water (hydrostatic testing), pressurized to a higher level than would be experienced during operation. In the unlikely event of an incident, TransCanada takes full responsibility for emergency response, clean-up and costs.
Read more about our emergency planning.
24 hours per day, 365 days a year, our Operations Control Centres (OCCs) manage some of the world’s most sophisticated pipeline monitoring technology.
At sites throughout North America, we conduct everything from aerial patrols (using low-flying aircraft and sensitive detection equipment), to geotechnical monitoring and searches for areas where erosion may have washed away the soil covering a pipeline.
In-line inspections are also part of our regular routine. Also known as “pigging,” (Pipeline Inspection Gauge) these inspections use an internal inspection device called a “smart-pig” to travel the length of a pipeline to collect data to monitor the condition of the pipeline. When an in-line inspection identifies a potential anomaly, investigative digs may also be conducted to expose the anomaly for further inspection and potential repair.
Whether the line carries natural gas or oil and liquids, at the first sign of a potential issue or irregularity, OCC operators stop pipeline flow within minutes, isolating the issue and helping protect the natural environment.
Learn more about how innovative technology is helping us detect leaks and maintain pipeline integrity across the continent.
Additional Safety-Related Information
Continually improving the integrity and reliability of our pipelines and facilities is, and always has been, one of our highest priorities. Here are some of the ways we’re doing it.
By partnering with industry peers, universities, colleges and governments, we’re part of one of the industry’s largest research and development programs. In fact, in 2015 we invested more than $45 million in R&D alone, placing TransCanada in Research Infosource’s Top 100 Corporate R&D Spenders List.
For more than half a century, we’ve been instrumental in testing new technologies to maximize pipeline efficiency – from safety improvements to minimizing emissions and more. By focusing our R&D dollars, we’re investing in the long-term sustainability of our operations.
As part of our commitment to environmental stewardship, we work to minimize our environmental footprint as we strive to meet the energy needs of North Americans. We invest heavily in understanding the impacts our pipelines and facilities have on sensitive wildlife species and work to preserve and protect ecosystems throughout North America.
It isn’t every day that industry competitors unite in solving challenges, but that’s exactly what happened when TransCanada, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan came together to develop the External Leak Detection Experimental Research (ELDER) facility in Edmonton, Alberta.
Designed to identify exciting new ways of detecting leaks on liquids pipelines, the ELDER facility has allowed our companies to pool resources and share in the testing, study and validation of various new and innovative technologies.
Evaluating leak detection technology
The $1.4-million apparatus, which opened in the fall of 2014, created an environment where companies developing leak-detection technologies for oil pipelines can test their systems in controlled and realistic conditions by an objective third-party – in this case, Edmonton’s C-FER Technologies.
In 2015, the facility was used to conduct research into aerial-based leak detection technology with the goal of enhancing across-the board pipeline safety. The remarkable aerial technologies that were tested have the potential to identify leaks from the air before they’re visible to the human eye and can be deployed using helicopters, aircraft and even unmanned aerial vehicles called drones.
According to Brian Wagg, director of business development and planning at C-FER, “We’re trying to spot leaks before they get to surface; that’s why we’re looking at different technologies. Things like the thermal image of the pipeline might change, the ground might heave or the volatile organic compounds or gases that come up through the ground might be visible through these different detection technologies.”
Why do all of this?
It all comes down to adding new layers of protection to our multi-faceted pipeline integrity program. We work hard to identify cutting-edge R&D initiatives that will move the needle for our industry, keep our communities safe, protect the environment and benefit North American communities. We think that’s money well spent.