Following over 20 investigations on pipeline leaks in Alberta over the past 3 years, Alberta energy regulator (AER) is urging operating companies to step up their game in leak detection for multiphase and produced water pipelines.

Pipeline transport continues to be the safest and most efficient method of transporting oil products if maintained correctly however, this has not been the case in Alberta. Investigations done by the AER show that many of these accidents are attributed to improper leak detection procedure and subpar leak detection training for operators. Most of the leaks in the last 3 years went unnoticed for at least 3 days and in some cases took for up to 2 weeks before being detected. Upon detection, it took an average of more than 40 days to contain the pipeline leak. Leaks of this sort cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup efforts to mitigate, not to mention the serious impact on public image and investor relations for these companies. Leaks also pose a serious threat on the environment and ecology, especially in the heavily forested areas of northern Alberta.

In the case of pipeline leaks, prevention is the key. The focus here should be on improving pipeline detection systems and provide pipeline operators with the proper training. The AER urges operating companies to:

1- Implement and evaluate procedures for pipeline integrity testing and take an integrated approach to tackling this challenge by utilizing multiple leak detection methods.

2- Ensure all personnel responsible for operator training have adequate training with ongoing skill testing and evaluation.

Grey Owl Engineering has years of experience in pipeline integrity and we are currently working with major operating companies on leak detection design, implementation and training using existing equipment to be cost effective. If you would like a presentation or proposal to add leak detection to your existing system Please contact Steve Thompson at