Pipeline welds could fail under stress, regulators warn

No risk to public, Canadian Energy Regulator says

Federal and provincial energy regulators are cautioning pipeline operators about weld failures that could lead to oil or gas spills.

Documents posted to both the BC Oil and Gas Commission and Canada Energy Regulator (CER) websites in the past week are warning of the potential for failures of joints in high-strength pipelines.

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However, the CER cautioned, there is no public risk involved with the warning.

And, the regulators stressed the warnings were made due to observation of failures in other parts of the world, not due to specific Canadian situations.

“Safety Advisories are issued proactively as a way to inform companies of an identified safety or environmental concern,” CER chief engineer Dr. Iain Colquhoun said. “It is our duty as Canada’s national energy regulator to ensure companies have all available information related to safety, and are addressing the issues appropriately.”

The federal regulator said pipeline projects currently in service or that had recently completed construction work will not be expected to replace existing girth welds. Rather, companies will be expected to monitor the issues outlined in the safety advisory and update their integrity management plans accordingly.

B.C.’s regulator specifically warned Feb. 21 of situations “where strain could potentially accumulate in under matched girth weld areas with the potential for failure.”

The CER said no problems have arisen in Canada yet but have been seen elsewhere.

“The CER is of the view that similar incidents could occur under comparable conditions,” it said.

The CER said it expects regulated companies to take all reasonable care to ensure the safety and security of people, safety and security of regulated facilities and abandoned facilities and the protection of property and the environment.




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