Alberta reports higher pipeline failure rate

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) reports 860 failures in Alberta pipelines in the 12 months ended Mar. 31, a 14% increase over the previous year. The report covers almost 174,000 miles of pipelines, and problems included cracks, leaks, and breaks.


CALGARY�The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) reports 860 failures in Alberta pipelines in the 12 months ended Mar. 31, a 14% increase over the previous year. The report covers almost 174,000 miles of pipelines, and problems included cracks, leaks, and breaks.

The board said on inspection of 376 existing pipelines, 241 had unsatisfactory conditions, and 81 of 379 inspections of new lines also revealed unsatisfactory conditions. Overall, the EUB said 64% of pipelines checked were ruled unsatisfactory, compared to 52% in inspections a year earlier.

Minister of Resource Development Mike Cardinal said the province would not compromise public safety but did not announce any specific measures to deal with the problems.

The most serious recent break happened Aug. 1 when a crude line operated by Pembina Pipeline Corp., Calgary, caused a dump of about 6,000 bbl into the Pine River in northeastern British Columbia that threatened local communities and the environment. Clean-up costs and claims for that incident are estimated at up to $15 million (Can.). The line was built in 1961 and had been tested for corrosion in 1999.

Industry sources said factors in pipeline problems include an aging infrastructure and increased shipment of corrosive sour oil and natural gas. Other factors include frequency of inspections and operating procedures.

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