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National

NEB Releases Best Technology Guidelines for Pipeline Life Cycle

Posted on February 22, 2017

The National Energy Board (NEB) has released a new report, Best Available Technologies in Federally-Regulated Pipelines. The report is a detailed overview of the best current technologies and respective practices for protecting people and the environment in the lifecycle of a pipeline. It includes detailed technological and procedural descriptions for how to safeguard watercourses at every stage of planning, construction, operation, and maintenance.

The areas of focus in the report were modified after the Liberal government gained its majority government. At that time, James Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, requested that the NEB include environment-specific considerations. Consequently, the NEB provided information on environmental protections regarding:

  • leak prevention and response;
  • impact on water bodies and agricultural land;
  • waste management;
  • pipeline abandonment;
  •  and air emissions management.

“Pipeline technology continues to advance and when combined with a strong and well-understood safety culture, will achieve the best results for Canadians and for our environment. We are pleased to have relied on NEB staff expertise to create this report for the Minister, and to now share this information with Canadians,” said Peter Watson, CEO and chair, NEB.

Consideration of impacts on water run across the 130-page document, but focused areas of attention with respect to water are addressed under risk assessment, pre-construction and planning for watercourse crossing, water withdrawal and disposal during commissioning, and a variety of operational, decommissioning, and emergency considerations. In total there are more than 110 specific examples of technology and best practices to keep a pipeline safe.

Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) methodologies are described as the most appropriate for complex design uncertainties where risk outcomes might include large spills into an ecologically sensitive area, or an emergency that could affect a population’s drinking water. “QRA is best where failure frequency data is robust and established software solutions are available,”states the report. The report described QRA as an emerging technology globally “due principally to the consistent rigour it brings to the assessment.”

Addressing emerging technologies in clean-up products and equipment, the report points to the work of the Canadian Pipeline Technology Collaborative (CPTC). Guided by a 2015 study from the Royal Society of Canada on “The Behaviour and Environmental Impacts of Crude Oil Released into Aqueous Environments”, current research is pursuing new applications and innovations in traditional chemical dispersants, bioremediation, and physical methods.

The full report can be found on the National Energy Board’s website, neb-one.gc.ca.

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