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Increasing Number of Incidents of Pipeline Contact Damage During Ground Disturbance, AER Bulletin 2023-30

Link to Bulletin Summarized

Oil and Gas – Facilities

The AER noted a 69% increase in the number of pipeline incidents related to contact damage during ground disturbance (26 incidents in 2020 to 44 incidents in 2022) over the past three years. The AER was particularly concerned with a 243% year-over-year increase in licensees contacting their own pipelines in 2022.

The AER emphasized that all persons conducting ground disturbance, including those not regulated by the AER, must follow Part 5 of the Pipeline Rules. Further, the AER noted that all pipeline contact damage in Alberta must first be reported to the pipeline licensee and then to the AER, even if no product was released. Incidents must be investigated to determine the cause, including what measures must be implemented to prevent future occurrences.

The AER listed some of the measures that persons conducting a ground disturbance must implement:

  • Become familiar with Part 5 of the Pipeline Rules and sections 32, 33, and 35 of the Pipeline Act;
  • Thoroughly search for pipelines within 30 metres of the disturbance area perimeter;
  • Communicate with the licensees of the identified pipelines;
  • Ensure the competency and training of their personnel;
  • Keep all pipeline warning signs or markers visible and legible for the duration of the ground disturbance;
  • Sufficiently hand expose the pipe for positive identification before using any mechanical equipment; and
  • Ensure that the pipeline drill path is known at all times and that the pipelines that are being crossed are sufficiently exposed.

The AER additionally reminded licensees that the Pipeline Act and the Pipeline Rules require that the risks related to ground disturbance and contact damage be managed through safety and loss management systems and integrity management programs that meet the latest edition of Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Z662: Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems.

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