CEPA’s Integrity First helps ensure zero significant incidents

CEPA’s Integrity First helps ensure zero significant incidents

By Patrick Smyth

A lot has changed since the first Canadian transmission pipeline was built in 1853—a 25-kilometre cast-iron pipe that moved natural gas to Trois Rivières, Que.

Increased demand for energy led eventually to the expansion and sophistication of Canada’s pipeline network, which is now one of the safest, most economical and environmentally friendly options in the world for shipping large volumes of oil and gas.

Today, 119,000 kilometres of pipeline winds through Canada’s communities, safely delivering oil and gas to heat homes, fuel vehicles and create everyday products that people rely on. This number is set to grow as members of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) propose to invest more than $50 billion in pipeline projects in Canada over the next five years.

The evolution of the industry has led to significant changes regarding safety, environmental protection and transparency in recent years. CEPA’s members are working together more now than ever before, setting aside competition and sharing information to make the industry better, and to build trust with Canadians. The industry’s unprecedented safety record of 99.999 per cent over the last decade is evidence that the approach is working—but it’s still not good enough. The goal is zero incidents, and until that goal is achieved, there is still work to be done.      

In our third-annual Transmission Pipeline Industry Performance Report, CEPA highlights how our members are performing in the areas of safety, environmental protection and socio-economic contributions. The report also looks at the actions the industry is taking to continually improve. 

Zero significant incidents

Members once again delivered 99.999 per cent of oil and gas products safely, recording zero significant liquid releases in 2016. One significant natural gas release was recorded, which occurred during the maintenance of a natural gas pipeline that was not operational.

To demonstrate their ability to operate safety, CEPA members conducted in-line inspection runs on about 39,059 kilometres of pipelines in 2016. During these inspections, the inside of the pipeline is examined to identify changes, such as dents or wall thinning, which could threaten the pipeline’s integrity.

To inspect the outer walls of pipelines, CEPA members completed 2,696 integrity digs to check for suspected defects and make repairs.

Continuous improvement

CEPA continues to advance our flagship program, CEPA Integrity First®, which brings member companies together to collectively strengthen the pipeline industry’s performance and hold each other accountable. In 2016, Integrity First introduced third-party verifications, which add another layer of validation to members’ self-assessments in emergency management.

Canadian transmission pipeline operators also invested $22.8 million in developing and deploying innovative technology in 2016. These technologies focused on reducing corrosion, improving pipeline inspection, leak detection and damage prevention—all leading to safer operations.

Economic impact

The industry performance report also highlights the significant economic benefits pipelines deliver to Canadians. Local communities received a $31 million financial boost from CEPA’s member companies in 2016, including $3.2 million for Indigenous communities. CEPA members contributed $1.5 billion to government tax revenue in 2016, money that supports infrastructure and services that Canadians value.

There is a dynamic discussion about pipelines playing out in Canada right now, and all Canadians have a role in that conversation. We know that safety and environmental protection are top priorities for Canadians, and that is what the industry is focused on, too.

Through continuous improvements and ongoing collaboration, the industry’s goal of zero incidents can become a reality. In the meantime, CEPA will continue to create more awareness about what pipeline operators do 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the energy Canadians use is delivered in the safest and most responsible way.


CEPA’s 2017 Performance Report is available online at pr17.cepa.com


—Patrick Smyth is Vice-President, Performance, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association



Pipeline Observer


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