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Safety Report on Pipelines

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2408 words Published: 4th Sep 2017

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This report is intended [NH3]to let readers know that pipelines are not [NH4]simply put into the ground and ignored. It will briefly describe some of the procedures and practices that are in place today to ensure that pipelines are operating safely. The media’s influence often drives a negative perception about pipelines and this report will provide a more facts-based approach to educate the reader as they draw their own conclusion on pipeline safety.


The safest and most effective way to remove[NH5] our natural petroleum [NH6]resources is by way of pipelines. Pipelines in Alberta have been around since the early 1900’s(CEPA, 2016a). Over the past few years there has been a lot of controversy over pipelines. A big factor driving this controversy is the media’s methods in providing information to people who are often not well-educated on pipelines or their safety systems. The reality is that media outlets will often use sensationalism to engage their audience. News stories about petroleum products getting safely to market or updates on companies practicing their emergency response plan drills are not exciting! However, a rare glimpse [NH7]at a company spilling product by way of an oil spill, paired with images of coated birds-that is what the media wants to show. That fear-driven reality is what our society believes to be common.

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Research for this project involved looking for facts on non-biased websites. Prior to attending college, I worked in the oil & gas industry educating residents in rural areas about pipelines, the systems in place to protect the public and what to do in the unlikely event of an incident. The majority of my knowledge about pipeline safety comes from AER Directive 71: Emergency Preparedness and Response Requirements for the Petroleum Industry

Control Centers [NH9]

Large midstream pipeline companies operate their own control centers (CEPA,2016b). These control centers are operational 24/7, 365 days a year (CEPA, 2016b). Control rooms are equipped systems that collect information from the pipeline and associated facilities along the pipeline route. Some of the data that is monitored is temperature, flow rate and pressure from sensors along the route (CEPA, 2016b). If a leak is detected, alarms are triggered to indicate a possible problem.

Block Valves

A block valve is defined as a mechanical valve device installed in a pipeline that can be closed to block the flow of oil or gas through the line (Pipeline Association for Public Awareness, 2013). These valves are placed at various lengths along the pipeline route. If there was a leak along a section of pipeline, the block valves at either end of the leak would be closed. This would ensure only the product between those two block valve points emptying from the pipeline. Pipelines that cross rivers or creeks are equipped with block valves at both sides of the crossing that can close quickly to stop product flow (CEPA, 2016c). These block valves may be equipped with an emergency shut down (ESD) device that can close automatically with a decrease in pressure. The closing of a block valve by ESD would send an alarm back to the control center.

Cathodic Protection

When a pipeline is built, laid into the ground, and covered up with soil, corrosion can happen over a period of time. Before burying the pipeline, a protective coating is applied to the pipeline. As a back up to the protective coating, another form of protection is utilized called cathodic protection (Pipeline Association for Public Awareness, 2013). Through replicating an electrolytic action, additional corrosion prevention can be achieved via electrochemical processes (Pipeline Association for Public Awareness, 2013). This safeguarding helps to ensure the pipeline does not leak underground. [NH10]

Emergency Response Plans

While control centers, valves and protective coatings are all important to the pipeline’s safety systems, incidents happen and it’s vital to have a plan to address issues before they occur. The Alberta Energy Regulators (AER) Directive 071: Emergency Preparedness and Response Requirements for the Petroleum Industry Section 2.1 dictates that “The licensee must have a corporate level ERP with preplanned procedures that will aid in effective response to an emergency.” (2017, p. 12).

Aerial Surveillance[NH11]

A quick way to conduct a visual of a pipeline right of way is by use of aircraft. Great distances can be covered in a short amount of time. Depending on the product in the pipeline and classification of pipeline, that will depict how often aerial surveillance will have to occur[NH12]. While conducting this patrol, the pilot or spotter is looking for any visible signs of a possible leak, such as a sheen on the water or dead vegetation[NH13]. Spotters also look for encroachments to the pipeline [NH14]or any activity near or on the pipeline right of way.

Training Exercises

Companies operating pipelines in Alberta must[NH15] conduct annual training exercises (Alberta Energy Regulator, 2017). Oil companies must test its emergency response plans annually with a tabletop or communications exercise (Alberta Energy Regulator, 2017). Every three years a major exercise must be conducted. In this exercise, resources are usually deployed to the field in a mock incident (Alberta Energy Regulator, 2017). [NH16]
Spill Response Cooperative

In western Canada, a spill response cooperative was established. The name of this cooperative is Western Canadian Spill Services. The cooperative owns equipment that can be deployed to a spill. The equipment is strategically placed throughout western Canada in ready to go trailers. Some of the equipment in the trailers includes booms, skimmers, and wildlife deterrents (Western Canadian Spill Services, 2017). In addition to this equipment the cooperative also owns barges and airboats (Western Canadian Spill Services, 2017). The spill cooperative holds training exercises with its members to ensure a quick response to the spill and to stop further environmental impacts as a result of a spill. Though it is not mandatory for companies to join the spill cooperative, the AER highly recommends it (Western Canadian Spill Services, 2017). If a company wants to opt out of the cooperative, under AER Directive 071, Section 10.3.1., they will have to provide their own spill response plan to the AER for their approval (Alberta Energy Regulator, 2017).


From my years working in the oil and gas industry, and from my research for this project, I feel pipelines are still the safest way to move petroleum products. There are approximately 3.4 million barrels [NH17]of oil moved through pipelines daily in Canada (CEPA,2016d). Between the years of 2002 and 2015, 99.999% of all product (crude and natural gas) was safely transported via pipelines (CEPA,2016d). With the safety protocols that were briefly discussed in this report, the oil and gas industry works hard to ensure that there are no pipeline leaks. These practices, coupled with the regulations, ensure pipeline spills are a rare occurrence.

[NH19]Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). (2016d). About pipelines. Retried from https://www.aboutpipelines.com/en/pipeline-101/pipeline-facts/

Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). (2016c). Environmental protection. Retrieved

from https://www.aboutpipelines.com/en/environmental-protection/water/

Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). (2016b). Pipeline control rooms and safety.

Retrieved from https://www.aboutpipelines.com/en/blog/pipeline-control-rooms-and-safety/

Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). (2016a). Pipeline history. Retrieved from


Government of Alberta[NH20]. (2015). Pipeline Act; Pipeline Rules. Queen’s Printer.

Pipeline Association for Public Awareness. (2013). Glossary of terms. Retrieved from


Western Canadian Spill Services. (2017). The WCSS Purpose. Retrieved from


[NH1]I changed your font to Calibri because I have a personal hatred for Times New Roman … LOL… you can change it back if you want.

[NH2]Main headings are centered and bold.

[NH3]Too passive, so I changed it

[NH4]Never use the word ‘just’. Ever.

[NH5]Move or remove? MOVE

[NH6]Added ‘petroleum’ because all I could think about was giant ass trees being fed into a pipeline for transport.

[NH7]I took some liberties with your wording… hope that’s okay! I used track changes, so just decline anything you don’t like, or if I misinterpreted it. YOU’RE THE BEST SWEETIE

[NH8]Can that part be deleted? YUP

[NH9]Secondary headings are left-adjust, and bold.

[NH10]Yiiiiiikes, what was all that? The rest of your paper is not quite this scientific… so it kind of stands out like a sore thumb, I took a stab at summarizing what those deleted sentences were saying. But that’s too much detail for your paper, I think!!

[NH11]You have no references for this section… PIPELINE ACT

[NH12]Pretty specific to leave without a citation.

[NH13]These specifics need a citation. THIS WAS MY KNOWLEDGE

[NH14]Again, citation required. THIS WAS MY KNOWLEDGE

[NH15]This sentence indicates an obligation, thus needs a citation. Is it AER Dir 071? YES D71 14.10

[NH16]I think you’re implying that the training exercises are a requirement of the Dir. 071 so I cited that.

[NH17]Facts need citation. Always! https://www.aboutpipelines.com/en/pipeline-101/pipeline-facts/

[NH18]This always goes onto its own page.

[NH19]Make sure none of your hyperlinks are active when you submit your page. That’s a no-no.

[NH20]This doesn’t show up in your paper anywhere? THE AERIAL SURVEILLANCE


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