Media coverage on Enbridge's record doesn't tell full story

Author: Northern Gateway
Dated: 19 January 2012

There have been a few stories in the media lately related to Enbridge’s incident history on its pipeline systems. Unfortunately, the stories don’t provide readers with many of the details they’d need to understand the complete story.

As Enbridge discloses annually in its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, the vast majority of the spills that Enbridge experiences are small, they occur within Enbridge facilities (and never leave the site), and are discovered very soon after they occur - allowing for rapid response and clean-up and resulting in low, or no environmental impact.

In three of the past 10 years, Enbridge had no significant off-property releases on our liquids pipeline system in Canada and the United States. In the other seven years, we experienced one significant release each in 2003, 2009 and 2011, two each in 2002 and 2004, three in 2010, and four in 2007. 

Contrary to the impression left by some media stories, spills are rare relative to the volume of liquids products that Enbridge transports. As the stories correctly point out, Enbridge safely delivered over 99.99% of the volume we transported in 2010, when we shipped almost a billion barrels of petroleum products through our system.

Having said that, no spill is acceptable to Enbridge because our goal is zero incidents. Our number one priority is the safety and integrity of our operations and to prevent all spills, leaks and releases. Since 2002, we have spent approximately $1 billion on our safety and maintenance programs for our Liquids Pipelines systems across North America.

The proposed Northern Gateway pipelines will be designed according to exacting Canadian Standards guidelines. No pipeline ruptures have been reported on pipeline systems built to these standards in the last 25 years.

Just as Enbridge does for all its pipelines, Northern Gateway will implement mitigation measures during design, construction and operation of the pipelines to prevent releases and to quickly respond should the need arise. These measures include, among others, avoidance of environmentally sensitive areas and special design requirements for areas such as road, river and creek crossings.

Although pipelines have long been proven to be the safest way of transporting oil and gas, Enbridge is working constantly to ensure safety by increasing the reliability of our pipelines and facilities.

Our number one social responsibility is to deliver energy reliably and safely and we will always live up to that standard.

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  • Karl Antonov, Feb 01st, 2012 (3 years ago)

    I have three questions that will help determine if I support the pipeline:
    1. What is emergency response plan for a Tsunami? Would this affect Kitimat facilities? Do you have equipment that would be deployable under this scenario (ie. equipment on high ground).
    2. Why are you not building a pipeline to Eastern Canada instead? It appears that Canada could consume most of the oil planned for shipping.
    3. Would you consider not running tankers when Salmon are in their spawning cycle?

  • Northern Gateway, Jan 31st, 2012 (3 years ago)

    Hi Gracie, thanks for your question.

    When a pipeline is first put into operation, In-line Inspection Data is gathered to create a baseline for future measurements. Internal inspections are one part of our pipeline integrity programs. Modern steels and coatings have significantly reduced corrosion concerns in newly constructed pipelines; which is confirmed in the high-resolution data collected over successive in-line inspections.

    We also use geospatial data to ensure the position of the pipeline is not shifting over time—we’re looking to verify that soil conditions are stable and to avoid potential ground-based stresses on the pipeline.

    A detailed Northern Gateway Integrity Management Program will be developed for the pipelines during the detailed engineering phase prior to the pipelines going into service.

  • Gracie, Jan 28th, 2012 (3 years ago)

    How often do you send a smart pig through your pipelines?

  • Northern Gateway, Jan 26th, 2012 (3 years ago)

    Hi Peter, we considered Prince Rupert and Kitimat as possible locations. We carried out a feasibility study that took into account a number of considerations. The study found that Kitimat was the best and safest option available.

    It’s important to note the Northern Gateway route was selected to take advantage of existing disturbed forests (cut blocks and forest service roads) created by the logging and forestry industry. We chose this route to minimize the impact on the environment. There are actually very few segments where we need to create right-of-way through ‘undisturbed’ forest. Minimizing impact to the environment is one of the first considerations Enbridge takes into account when planning pipeline routes.

  • Cody, Jan 23rd, 2012 (3 years ago)

    Pipelines in Canada safely transport over 3 million barrels of oil every day. This is equivalent to approximately 15,000 tanker trucks every day. The Northern Gateway pipeline will be built no differently and must adhere to Canadian regulations which are among the best in the world. This pipeline just makes logical, common sense for Canada.

  • Peter Pollhammer, Jan 19th, 2012 (3 years ago)

    Why does the pipeline not follow parallel to the Yellowhead highway all the way to Prince Rupert or if possible in the right of way?
    Better still process the raw material in the vacinity where it is produced.

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