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Northern Exposure: Monitoring and Testing a Subarctic Liquids Pipeline

[+] Author Affiliations
Rick Barlow, Ted Farquhar, Anar Tleukulov

Enbridge Pipelines Inc., Edmonton, AB, Canada

Paper No. IPC2004-0255, pp. 2415-2421; 7 pages
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference, Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 4–8, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4176-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-3737-8
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


The subarctic location of Enbridge’s Norman Wells pipeline provides unique conditions affecting both construction and operations. These include the huge variations in annual air temperature, permanently frozen ground (permafrost), hundreds of river crossings and potential slope instability. The regulatory authorities recognized this environmental sensitivity and stringent conditions for construction and operation were applied. In this difficult environment, loss of integrity must be detected rapidly and at low thresholds. To ensure that integrity monitoring maintains or improves these thresholds, frequent testing is necessary. Testing of the integrity of this remote northern oil pipeline provides significant operational challenges. This remote 869km (540 mile) NPS12 crude oil pipeline has been operating in the Canadian subarctic since 1985. This paper will outline the implementation, assessment and future directions of the integrity monitoring testing of the pipeline’s leak detection capability. The history of this pipeline in the Canadian Northwest Territories will be outlined with emphasis on the special regulatory issues of this sensitive sub arctic environment. The development of a Computational Pipeline Modeling (CPM) leak detection system to meet these regulations will be summarized with reference to the guidelines of CSA Z662, Appendix E. A central component of meeting this regulatory requirement is an annual test program that uses controlled fluid withdrawal to test the CPM system and operational responses. The special methods and procedures used to meet the challenges of this program will be noted. The extent and frequency of testing make this probably one of the most tested liquid pipeline leak detection systems in the world. These controlled fluid withdrawal tests are used to enhance the Enbridge response to operational emergencies. Many factors must be considered when designing these tests. A detailed description of the preparation and field logistics required for the pipeline CPM test will be presented. The special needs of conducting tests in an environmentally sensitive region will also be outlined. A review of how these tests address the considerations of API 1149 and API 1155 are summarized. Since pipeline completion, over 70 test events have been conducted. A recent case study will detail some of the issues associated with testing. Future plans for enhancements using additional testing methodologies will be presented with particular mention of a simulation-based alternative.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME
Topics: Pipelines , Testing



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