Alberta Energy Regulator:  Media Release

[Note: this comes from the government regulator for the Alberta oil industry; historically a cheerleader for the industry. "On average, it took 48 days to respond to and isolate the pipelines for these eight releases."]

Bulletin 2016-22

July 14, 2016

Operational Advisory: Leak Detection

This bulletin highlights the importance of developing and maintaining an effective leak detection program for multiphase (oil well effluent) and produced water pipelines. The focus is on these two types of
pipelines since

• multiphase pipelines present a monitoring challenge due to constantly fluctuating pressures and flow, as well as the line-
fill characteristics; and
• produced water pipelines can have a significant impact on the environment if there is a release due to the high pressures and volumes common to these systems, making early leak detection critical.


The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has investigated a total of 23 pipeline releases since its inception on June 17, 2013. For eight of these releases, improper leak detection was identified as a significant contributing factor. The pipelines that failed in these cases were mainly transporting oil well effluent or produced water. The investigations concluded that company personnel responsible for leak detection were not sufficiently trained or simply failed to recognize that a leak was occurring until several days after the leak had started. On average, it took 48 days to respond to and isolate the pipelines for these eight releases.

Operator Training

The AER requires operating companies to ensure that all personnel responsible for leak detection are properly trained in leak detection. Training and competency testing of employees (both new and experienced) are vital, along with retesting and ongoing evaluation.

Further  Information

Pipeline leak detection, training, and monitoring requirements are set out in the Pipeline Rules, Canadian Standards Association CSA Z662- 15: Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems, and AER Directive 077: Pipelines—Requirements and Reference Tools. AER Manual 005: Pipeline Inspections is a resource used by AER field operations staff in determining compliance with the requirements.

For any questions about this bulletin, contact AER Industry Relations at
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