AER Report: Pipeline Incidents Cut In Half In Last Ten Years

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AER Report: Pipeline Incidents Cut In Half In Last Ten Years

A new report by the Alberta Energy Regulator is showing that pipeline incidents have been cut in half in the past decade.

According to the Pipeline Performance Report released on Thursday, pipeline incidents fell by 48 percent from 800 incidents in 2008 to just 417 last year.

AER says in 2017 alone, pipeline incidents decreased by 6 percent year over year – with 62 percent resulting in less than one cubic metre of substance released.

Director of Pipeline in industry operations David Helmer says the report shows the incidents that do occur are preventable.

“We know these causes are preventable through specific action. For example, the number one cause of pipeline incidents is internal corrosion. We know that if we do more preventative maintenance programs – it goes a long way to reducing that failure mechanism.”

In 2017 alone, incidents fell by 6 percent year over year, with 62 percent of incidents resulting in less than one cubic metre of spilt substance.

ImageAn oil sands mine outside Fort McMurray // Photo courtesy: Alberta Energy Regulator

The report notes 92 percent of high consequence incidents occur in pipelines carrying corrosive substances such as salt water or a mixture of oil, gas and saltwater

It also shows 80 percent of pipeline incidents resulted in no public, wildlife or environmental impact – while those of high consequence made up 6 percent.

President and CEO at AER Jim Ellis says the report indicates how pipeline safety is improving.

“The continued reduction in incidents shows that companies are getting better at managing the risk of their pipelines and that the steps we’re taking to keep them safe are working,” Ellis said. “While we’re encouraged that the performance of pipeline companies is improving, more needs to be done because all pipeline incidents are preventable.”

Pipeline length also grew in that ten-year span by 11 percent – to 426,000km.

Helmer adds the report will help the industry continue to improve performance.

“We collect all this data so that we can learn from it and start to paint a picture for where we need to focus as a regulator and where the industry needs to focus in terms of their attention of how they operate and construct the pipelines.”

The report is part of the Regulator’s industry performance program – which launched in 2016 – to help improve the performance of oil and gas companies.
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