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Enbridge, TransCanada joining forces to improve leak detection

Jay F. Marks Published: December 18, 2013

Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corp. are teaming up to research new ways to detect pipeline leaks, the companies announced Wednesday.

The companies will work together to evaluate cutting-edge leak detection technologies at an Edmonton research facility, using a state-of-the-art pipeline simulator developed by Enbridge.

“Enbridge has said repeatedly as a company that we don’t compete in the area of safety, and this partnership with TransCanada represents clear proof of that approach,” said Kirk Byrtus, vice president of pipeline control at Enbridge. “Enbridge has invested considerable time and resources into building a world-class leak detection testing apparatus, but we believe that working together with committed partners to discover the best technology on the market is in everyone’s best interest.”

Enbridge has invested $3 million in the External Leak Detection Experimental Research (ELDER) test apparatus, which it designed and built with research partner C-FER Technologies of Edmonton.

The company has committed an additional $1.6 million to leak detection research, with TransCanada pitching in $1.3 million. The Alberta Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education will contribute $1.1 million.

Engineers from Enbridge, TransCanada and C-FER Technologies will perform a series of tests next on four external leak-detection technologies – vapor-sensing tubes, fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing systems, hydrocarbon-sensing cables, and fiber-optic distributed acoustic sensing systems – to discover which is best for external leak detection on liquids pipelines.

“Pipelines have an excellent record of safety and efficiency delivering oil and gas, and TransCanada continues to strive for zero leaks or safety incidents on our pipelines,” said Vern Meier, TransCanada’s vice president of pipeline safety and compliance. “Joining forces with Enbridge and other partners to test new methods for detecting leaks is an important step towards realizing this goal.

“New technologies must be proven to work before they are implemented on large-scale transmission pipelines.”

The joint industry partnership forged by Enbridge and TransCanada could grow to include other pipeline operators. Each participant will have access to all engineering and test data collected since work began on the project.