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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Canada’s vast network of leaking oil pipelines!

Dear Readers:

Ezra Levant of "The Rebel" sent me this, so I thought I would pass it along.

Facts matter:
Based on the nasty public and political debate over whether to approve oil pipelines, you’d think Canada’s vast network was leaking like a sieve, is prone to catastrophic accidents, is owned by unscrupulous corporations and is regulated by tyrants on the take. Then, there are the facts:
• In half a century of transportation of oil and gas on 117,000 kilometres of pipelines, there were two fatalities, one in Alberta and one in Ontario. Both individuals were operating backhoes, failed to do the required checks and suffered the consequences of striking a gas pipeline.
• Pipeline accidents are so rare that there is one chance of a pipeline spill of more than 50 barrels occurring in 20,000 years.
• In 2014, the amount of oil spilled by pipelines would barely fill two-thirds of a rail car.
• Regulators today are weighing and testing more evidence than ever.
The gulf between actual pipeline safety and pipeline anxiety is so wide, and Brenda Kenny has spent most of her career studying it and working on solutions — first as a senior regulator at the National Energy Board (NEB), then by doing a mid-career doctorate and finally as president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA).
“I think on balance, if I were a neighbour of a pipeline, I would feel more secure now than ever,” Kenny, a metallurgical engineer with a master’s in welding, said in an interview. “And I would also have to recognize that the incidents are extremely rare when you consider the scale of the enterprise.”
But the gulf is there, addressing it has become a big part of the business and it’s meant big changes for pipeline companies, she said.
For example, pipeline safety and performance has become the major focus of CEPA — the association that represents pipeline companies including TransCanada Corp., Enbridge Inc. and Kinder Morgan Canada.
“We don’t compete on safety, and there is deep recognition that anybody’s incident is everybody’s incident,” said Kenny.
To that end, pipeline companies have adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to emergency response, which means if a pipeline incident occurs everyone steps up to fix it.
More assurance comes from the Pipeline Safety Act, implemented by the federal government last year, which requires pipeline companies to clean up any spill and show they have access to $1 billion in capital to address damage.
And with the public so concerned about damage to the environment, they are striving for zero incidents.
They are not not there yet, but close.
According to a recently released report on 2014 performance, Canada’s oil and gas pipelines had a 99.999 per cent safety record; there were 122 liquids and natural gas spills and releases that year, including four categorized as significant and 80 per cent occurring within pipeline facilities. The report also shows Canadian pipelines are safer than U.S. pipelines based on the frequency of failure incidents.
After 10 years with Calgary-based Canadian Energy Pipelines Association, including eight as its leader, Brenda Kenny, 58, is retiring.Kenny said “emotional content” started bleeding into pipeline reviews 20 years ago and peaked five years ago with BP PLC’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Enbridge Inc.’s spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in July 2010, and the PG & E gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., in September, 2010.
Much of the anxiety has to do with misinformation, she said, such as confusion between transmission pipelines and pipelines that are part of production units.
The first are like energy highways that are highly regulated and monitored, the second are inside facilities, yet the public makes no distinction between the two if there is a spill.
“We want people to be provided any and all information transparently, and we don’t want to be defensive,” she said. “But at the same time, there needs to be recognition that a pipeline carrying bitumen and sand in a production unit is maintained and monitored differently and is different in its make up and structure than a big transmission pipeline with inspections that is heavily regulated.”
After 10 years with the Calgary-based organization, including eight as its leader, Kenny, 58, retired last week.
On Dec. 1, she was replaced by Chris Bloomer, a geoscientist who started his career at Shell Canada. He was most recently CEO of Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd. Prior to that, he was a senior vice-president and chief operating officer at Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd.
Kenny leaves the job as the new Liberal government implements its own solution to public anxiety over pipelines — by reforming the National Energy Board and improving its environmental assessments.
Kenny said the NEB is already serving Canadians well.
“The extreme volume of information that is cross-examined and tested, and looking at any major project, is unbelievable,” she said. “There is more environmental study, engineering study, transparency, and evaluation now than in any point of our history. And the outcome of it is a system of energy that moves anything outside of wires, every day, seamlessly with an extraordinary safety record.”
But she has her own ideas about what needs to be improved:
Incorporate serious consultation and accommodation with First Nations by the government, instead of relying on pipeline companies to do it; come out of the Paris climate change summit with clear policies so that pipeline reviews aren’t paralyzed by climate change advocacy; and get back to reviewing pipelines based on the national interest.
Financial Post
ccattaneo@nationalpost.com

 http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/making-a-case-for-pipelines-i-would-feel-more-secure-now-than-ever-says-brenda-kenny?__lsa=e96a-ec30