Pipelines committed to safety

The pipeline industry is working hard at trying to minimize the risk of potential future spills with an ultimate goal of zero incidents

RE: Facts About Pipelines in Canada

Recently, there was a letter from Mr. Michael Hale from the PIPE UP Network in Chilliwack, BC, that appeared in your newspaper on August 2. We would like the opportunity to respond to Mr. Hale’s letter based on the facts.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 109,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2011, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.

In Mr. Hale’s letter, he made some comments about pipelines and the industry that are incorrect. For example, he suggests that “tar sands bitumen (which must be diluted by volatile organic compounds to be shipped through pipelines) is not like conventional crude oil: It is more corrosive and more toxic.” This is not true. A recent study by Alberta Innovates Technology Future (AITF) disputed these claims. In fact, the study found that diluted bitumen (dilbit) has properties very similar to those of conventional crude oil. Furthermore, the AITF study concluded that there is no more risk of corrosion in pipelines carrying dilbit than that found in pipelines transporting conventional crude oil. Diluted bitumen has been safely transported in pipelines for decades.

Mr. Hale also referenced in his letter, an economist, who “clearly shows, tar sands pipelines are ‘not an income generating growth opportunity’, as the industry tries to claim.” The fact is, the current lack of pipeline market access costs the Canadian economy approximately $40 million per day. This equates to a loss of export revenues totaling approximately $14 billion annually in trade.

And lastly, Mr. Hale questions whether or not the pipeline industry can “guarantee” that there will be no future spills. The fact is, the pipeline industry cannot make that guarantee, in the same way that other modes of transportation cannot make that guarantee either. However, the industry is working hard at trying to minimize the risk of potential future spills with an ultimate goal of zero incidents. One of the ways in which the industry is hoping to achieve this goal, is through CEPA’s recently announced program called, CEPA Integrity First. This program is dedicated to improving the industry’s performance, communication and engagement of priority issues by jointly developing and adopting best practices across CEPA’s member companies.

For more information on pipeline safety, we encourage you to visit our website – www.aboutpipelines.com.


Brenda Kenny, Ph.D, P.Eng

President & CEO,

Canadian Energy Pipeline Association