Are you a pipeline owner or operator?

If so, surely some of your pipeline assets cross waterbodies. Navigating pipeline water crossing requirements can often be difficult, much like the torrid waters of some of the larger rivers that exist in Western Canada. Many of you may be aware of some of the more recent high-profile pipeline spills into waterbodies such as the North Saskatchewan River (2016, Saskatchewan), Red Deer River (2012, Alberta), and Kalamazoo River (2010, Michigan). In each of the cases, the pipeline owners incurred financial impacts into the several million-dollar range.

A pipeline spill into a waterbody can adversely affect public safety and have severe impacts on the environment. Beyond these external impacts, there are negative internal impacts to your company’s public image and social license to operate. You face risk of enforcement action by regulators, and detrimental financial impacts. Although it is easy to understand the cost of cleanup and repair, most companies DON’T account for ALL the financial impacts. Lost production (downtime), consumption of internal resources (personnel), fines, enforcement actions from regulators, enhanced scrutiny during audits or licensing applications, and opposition from landowners during future development endeavors are just a few examples of additional costs burdened by pipeline owners inflicted with a pipeline related spill, especially when it happens in or near a waterbody.

Explore water crossing risk managementYou are probably feeling a bit nervous at this point and thinking “what are we doing to mitigate our risks related to pipeline water crossings?” The answer likely lies somewhere on a broad spectrum between “absolutely nothing” to “we have everything covered”.

If your answer is toward the absolutely nothing side of the spectrum you should be aware that numerous sections of CSA Z662-15 address pipeline water crossing related requirements.  Broadly, Section 3.4 indicates that an owner shall identify, assess and manage hazards and associated risks. Section dictates that operating companies shall periodically patrol their pipeline in order to observe conditions including erosion, ice effects, scour, soil slides, subsistence, and loss of cover among others, each of these are potential risks associated to pipeline water crossings. states that “underwater crossings shall be inspected for adequacy of cover, accumulation of debris, and other conditions that can affect the safety or integrity of the crossing.”  Ultimately, there is a lot more required than one might first believe.

Regardless of how deep you have dived into investigating your pipeline water crossing risks, Explore is there to help! We carry with us 10 years of experience exploring the world of pipeline water crossing management and have 20,000 field inspections under our belt. Our industry leading experience has allowed us to evolve our approach over time to ensure that we advise our clients with the best and most current advice. Explore is the industry leader in providing support for water crossing management, from program design, through to field inspection services of your water crossings, and then finally with support on any non-compliant crossings, aiding in mitigation of such hazards.

Water Crossing Manager within GDM’s Converge platform

We use a continuous cycle to aid in the management of your pipeline water crossings over the full life-cycle of the pipeline assets, extending from pre-construction right through to abandonment. The first step is to determine all the pipeline water crossings in your asset inventory, next, the crossings are prioritized based on risk, from there you are then able to determine your long-term inspection strategy and time horizon for completing the first inspections.

Our use of the Water Crossing Manager within GDM’s Converge platform, allows us to easily identify and classify all of your water crossings, making the prioritization process simple.  The Water Crossing Manager has been specifically designed for this purpose, providing ease of use and the best method to retain documentation related to each pipeline water crossing in your inventory.

With your strategy in hand, you are ready to begin field-level inspections, which identify your actual depth of cover and crossing specific risks and hazards. Finally, upon obtaining the inspection results, you return to the beginning of the cycle to update your inventory and account for any changes as you re-prioritize, update your plan and strategy.

For any crossings found to have depth of cover less that the 1.2m requirement laid out in CSA Z662-15 there is an expectation that further actions are taken to assess the risk and mitigate them if deemed necessary. Non-compliant crossings can have enhanced assessment of risk through scour analysis and hazard identification, while measures taken to mitigate risks include emergency management planning, flow monitoring, hydrotechnical assessments, bathymetric surveys, or engineering assessments for continued service. Explore is happy to provide guidance to our current and potential clients relating to all water crossing services.

For more information about the water crossing services Explore provides please click here or contact:

Jesse Toth
Manager, Depth of Cover
Direct: 403-463-9113