Pipeline Integrity

Corporate Responsibility

Pipeline Integrity

Our approach to pipeline integrity management works to prevent pipeline failures, by placing a strong focus on proactive management, from risk identification to mitigation. We assess each pipeline based on the likelihood of failure and the potential consequences of that failure.

Our risk-based, comprehensive pipeline integrity management system includes:

  • Proven assessment tools to effectively deploy resources and capital to areas of highest exposure to manage our pipeline inventory — including detailed evaluations of our pipeline inventory with a strong focus on high consequence pipelines, such as pipelines that cross water bodies.
  • Effective and efficient execution of mitigation activities — including corrosion mitigation and monitoring programs, planned inspections and repairs, incident investigation, internal and external audits and regulatory engagement.
  • Effective spill and emergency response — if a leak or spill occurs, the consequence is minimized through our Emergency Management and spill preparedness programs.
  • Focus on continuous improvement — program auditing and incident investigations allow us to implement lessons learned and ensure best practices are in place.

Read our 2017 Stewardship Report to Stakeholders for more information on our Pipeline Integrity Management programs and our performance.

Evaluations are ongoing as existing asset conditions change and new assets are acquired. Our teams work closely to ensure that if a leak or spill occurs, the consequence is minimized through our Emergency Management and spill preparedness programs. These programs are subject to regular “tabletop ” practice exercises to enable effective response in the unlikely event of a spill.

At Canadian Natural, we also coordinate our pipeline abandonments with our facility and site abandonment and reclamation programs, so that our sites are left in a safe and environmentally sound manner. This approach also includes the alignment of complementary programs, such as our well and pipeline abandonment programs with our facility decommissioning and wellsite reclamation programs. As a result of this area-based approach, our sites (facilities and wells) proceed to final reclamation more efficiently with better coordination of activities. Read about our comprehensive environmental closure program here.

Pipeline Water Crossing Management

Canadian Natural’s pipeline network intersects a number of flowing water bodies. Canadian Natural has a comprehensive GeoHazard Management System that considers long-term geological and environmental conditions for the effective management of our pipelines crossing water bodies.

This system relies on a detailed assessment methodology including:

  • a risk-based inventory of each pipeline water crossing and each right-of-way slope of concern;
  • a prioritization process that is aligned to our Corporate Risk Criteria Matrix;
  • likelihood assessment criteria developed by industry-recognized GeoHazard specialists;
  • a stakeholder review process;
  • an engineering assessment process; and
  • a specialized monitoring (flood and slope activity) and mitigation process.

Building on our pipeline management systems, we continued with the implementation of river flow monitoring gauges to monitor river flow conditions in real time. If waters rise to certain thresholds, alerts are sent to operations staff, allowing for pipeline shut-in prior to a potential integrity incident.

Transporting Canada's Energy Safely

We believe pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting crude oil and natural gas over land. In addition to focusing on our own pipeline safety and integrity, we support the oil and natural gas industry’s efforts to raise awareness about transmission pipeline safety. Our Company and industry are working hard to ensure that Canada’s oil and natural gas continues to be developed responsibly with world-leading environmental performance standards.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) Pipeline Performance Report shows that pipeline incidents continued to decline in 2017. Over the past 10 years, even as the total length of pipelines grew by 11%, the number of pipeline incidents dropped by 48% in the province. In Alberta, all incidents must be reported to the AER. This includes ones with little or no liquid released, drips from loose valves, or hits on pipelines during digging that caused no leaks. Most incidents have little impact on the public, wildlife, or the environment; about two-thirds of incidents in 2017 released less than one cubic metre of substance.

We also support efforts by the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), which represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 119,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada. CEPA members transport 97% of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil production throughout Canada and across international borders, with a rate of 99.999% safe delivery of product.