SOURCE: Enbridge, Inc.
Enbridge operates the world’s largest liquids pipeline system—a complex, 25,000-kilometre (15,000-mile) infrastructure that criss-crosses the North American continent and that, over the past decade, has delivered almost 12 billion barrels of crude oil with a safe delivery record of better than 99.999 per cent.
But that record is not good enough for us. We’re striving for 100 per cent, and to help us reach that goal continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in a branch of technology known as pipeline integrity management and maintenance.
“Just as failure is not an option for airlines or for the aerospace industry, failure is not an option for Enbridge,” says Walter Kresic, Vice President of Pipeline Integrity for Enbridge’s Liquids Pipelines division. “For us, pipeline integrity is a mission-critical activity. The safety and reliability of our delivery systems are of paramount importance—for our customers, the public, our employees and the environment. Our aim is to ensure our pipelines and facilities never leak. Our target is zero significant spills on our pipeline system.”
A major focus for Enbridge’s pipeline integrity team is preventing pipe anomalies or defects such as corrosion, cracks or dents from occurring in the first place through good system design, construction and operation, and then, if anomalies or defects are found, investigating them by digging up sections of buried pipe and making repairs or even replacing whole sections of pipe.
Enbridge identifies potential flaws by sending inline inspection (ILI) devices through our pipelines to inspect the lines on a millimetre-by-millimetre scale. These devices are so sophisticated that they can sense and measure the size, frequency and location of even minute changes on both the inside and the outside of pipe walls, providing a level of detail similar to that provided by MRI, ultrasound, and x-ray in the medical industry.
“To get to that level of precision, we’re really pushing modern science,” says Kresic, who has worked on the company’s integrity programs for over 15 years. “We always ask ourselves, ‘Is what we’re doing at present, good enough?’. And the answer to that is ‘we can do better’. If we’re not at zero spills, then there are always technology improvements to be made.”
Enbridge is one of the world’s largest users of ILI tools and has long been recognized by our peers as being at the forefront in the use of the best technologies. We work with our ILI vendors to develop new technology and play a leading role in the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), the largest research forum for pipelines in the world.
KEYWORDS: Oil & Gas, pipeline, inline inspections, csr, pipeline integrity