Enbridge invests heavily in pipeline safety through a branch of technology known as Pipeline Integrity management and maintenance. This technology encompasses the tools, technologies and strategies needed to ensure that pipeline networks have the strength and operating "fitness" to perform safely, reliably and in an environmentally responsible manner.
In 2009, Enbridge invested about $150 million in the following programs and initiatives related to pipeline and system integrity.
Because of their location and the products they carry, pipelines may come in contact with water, bacteria and various chemicals, all of which can corrode steel. Both the interior and exterior of the line are potentially subject to corrosion. We combat corrosion by:
- using high-quality materials and anti-corrosion coatings
- scheduling regular monitoring and inline inspections to check for corrosion
- scheduling excavation and repair programs identified by inline inspections
- using cathodic protection (a low level electrical current) to inhibit corrosion of underground pipelines
- using modelling tools to predict corrosion growth rates along pipelines
- using inline devices known as "pigs" to clean and inspect pipelines from the inside
- using specialized corrosion inhibitors within the pipeline to address internal corrosion
We continue to pursue new methods to prevent or manage corrosion. Currently, we are helping to lead research and development that will further cathodic protection, coating science, inline inspection technologies and improved methods to monitor and mitigate internal corrosion.
Managing stress corrosion cracking
Stress corrosion cracking (SCC) is a crack initiation and growth process that can occur in steel pipelines. Research has shown that SCC is caused by a number of factors, including pipe material, stress and the environment surrounding the pipe. SCC typically occurs on the exterior of the pipe. This type of cracking has the potential to penetrate the steel and cause a pipeline break.
Although SCC has never been determined to have been the primary cause of a breakdown on the Enbridge pipeline system, we are committed to being at the forefront of technological developments and research relating to the phenomenon and its diagnosis. These efforts have resulted in rigorous programs for monitoring and managing SCC, using ultrasonic inline inspection technologies.
Over the past decade and a half, Enbridge has carried out a number of actions to further manage SCC, including development of advanced inspection technologies and enhanced field evaluation methods. We also continue to actively participate in a variety of industry forums with a focus on SCC.
Setting leak reduction targets and performance goals
Enbridge sets company-wide leak reduction targets across our liquids pipelines system. We report leaks or spills from our pipelines in accordance with requirements of regulatory authorities in Canada and the U.S.
We believe that pipeline safety and reliability begin with prevention. This means recognizing conditions that have been known to cause failures in the past – then working to minimize the risk. Learn more about prevention
Our focus on developing and maintaining strong relationships with our neighbors remains an ongoing commitment for Enbridge. It shows through our ongoing efforts to maintain the integrity of our pipeline systems and to ensure that neighbors, community residents and officials are kept well informed about all pipeline activities through an ongoing public awareness program.