As North America’s leading oil and gas pipeline companies, TransCanada and Enbridge agree that improving the safety and reliability of pipelines is in everyone’s best interest. That’s why both companies have affirmed their ongoing commitment to safe operations by signing a Joint Industry Partnership agreement to conduct groundbreaking research in the area of leak detection.
The partnership includes a funding commitment from both TransCanada and Enbridge to evaluate cutting-edge technologies to enhance external leak detection at research facility in Edmonton, Alberta that uses a state-of-the-art pipeline simulator known as the External Leak Detection Experimental Research (ELDER) test apparatus.
This unique partnership between industry rivals illustrates the dedication of both companies to work collaboratively and invest significantly in innovation and technology in pursuit of a common goal. By further enhancing safety and operational excellence, it has the potential to benefit the entire industry — and directly address the public’s concerns over responsible development.
TransCanada and Enbridge will share equally in the new knowledge and advancements that can be applied directly to improve leak detection in their respective operations.
“Pipelines have an excellent record of safety and efficiency delivering oil and gas, and TransCanada continues to strive for zero leaks or safety incidents on our pipelines. Joining forces with Enbridge and other partners to test new methods for detecting leaks is an important step towards realizing this goal. New technologies must be proven to work before they are implemented on large-scale transmission pipelines.”
— Vern Meier, TransCanada’s vice president of pipeline safety and compliance.
“Enbridge has said repeatedly as a company that we don’t compete in the area of safety, and this partnership with TransCanada represents clear proof of that approach. Enbridge has invested considerable time and resources into building a world-class leak detection testing apparatus, but we believe that working together with committed partners to discover the best technology on the market is in everyone’s best interest,” says Enbridge’s Kirk Byrtus, vice president of pipeline control.
The ELDER apparatus is the first tool of its kind in the world of this scale, and was purpose-built by Enbridge’s Pipeline Control Systems and Leak Detection team, along with project research partner C-FER Technologies of Edmonton, to evaluate external leak detection technologies in a setting that very closely represents the actual conditions where liquids pipelines are installed.
The Joint Industry Partnership represents a total funding commitment of $4 million, including $1.3 million from TransCanada, $1.6 million from Enbridge, and $1.1 million from the Alberta Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education. Enbridge had previously invested $3 million over a period of two years to develop and build the ELDER apparatus with C-FER Technologies.
Engineers from Enbridge, TransCanada and C-FER Technologies will be performing a series of tests in 2014 on four external leak-detection technologies — vapor-sensing tubes, fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing systems, hydrocarbon-sensing cables, and fiber-optic distributed acoustic sensing systems — and discovering which technology is optimal for external leak detection on liquids pipelines.
While the ELDER test apparatus was created to understand and examine the capabilities of external leak detection sensors, the scale and rigor of this project demonstrates the level of due diligence demanded by Enbridge and TransCanada before new technologies are applied to their operating environments.
“There are always new technologies being developed and placed onto the market, but we need to have confidence that they are appropriate and will work in our operating environment. On our Keystone XL project, for example, we have made a commitment to the U.S. Department of State that as part of the ongoing operation of Keystone XL we will continue to evaluate leak detection technologies and where significant improvements in leak detection performance can be achieved by introducing new technologies, we will consider that based on need and environmental sensitivity.”
— Vern Meier
TransCanada already employs some of the most advanced pipeline monitoring and leak-detection systems on our Keystone oil pipeline system, and we have agreed to implement 57 special conditions on Keystone XL and Gulf Coast Pipeline Projects that will ensure they are the safest pipelines built in the United States to date.
The Joint Industry Partnership currently involves two players in TransCanada and Enbridge, but remains an open-ended arrangement. Other pipeline operators and energy industry leaders are invited to participate as committed partners; each organization that participates will see an immediate benefit from all engineering and test data collected since work began on the project.
TransCanada has been at the forefront of pipeline monitoring and maintenance technologies for decades, and has one of the industry’s largest programs dedicated to pipeline R&D.
Last year, TransCanada invested $13.5 million in 89 research projects to make our operations safer and more efficient. These projects cover a range of engineering and operational areas, including materials design and construction, pipe integrity, environmental management and reclamation and improving natural gas flow efficiency.
For more information about TransCanada’s R&D program, and Technology & Innovation, visit TransCanada.com.