Two systems monitor the pipeline continuously for changes in operating parameters that would indicate a possible leak:
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System
- Leak Detection System
The SCADA system monitors rate-of-flow in the pipeline, pressure, temperature, and density of product, among other things. The parameters are then compared to a theoretical flow model, identifying any differences outside of prescribed norms that might indicate a problem. If a variance is found, an alarm will sound that is received by the Control Centre operator in Edmonton, Alberta. In the centre, there are dedicated operators per shift, each responsible for a different section of the pipeline. Monitoring takes place 24/7, and is divided into 12-hour shifts.
All operators undergo rigorous training and simulator testing to determine if they are qualified to hold this critical position. Until operators are fully qualified and have passed all testing, they may not operate unsupervised.
The data and modeling for the Leak Detection System is maintained and verified by a separate group of employees. These employees have received specialized training on how to operate and support the leak detection models.
In the event that an alarm does go off, a prescribed series of procedures and actions immediately begins. There are various types of alarms that could result in different procedures, as well as different responses depending on the location, the terrain and the conditions surrounding the area in question.