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
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
• 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.
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.
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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