If you own a vehicle, you likely have a regular routine of dropping it off for maintenance and repairs so it continues to operate smoothly and safely. Other forms of transportation such as buses, trains and airplanes are also routinely temporarily taken out of service for maintenance purposes in order to keep operating safely and efficiently; this also applies to our pipeline system. 

As part of our ongoing pipeline integrity management program, we regularly conduct routine maintenance on the Trans Mountain Pipeline and its associated facilities. While many maintenance activities can be performed while the pipeline is in operation, there is certain work that requires our pipeline operations to be paused for a short duration of time. These instances are typically known as shutdowns.

We conduct scheduled shutdowns approximately twice each year, typically for a time period between 24 and 36 hours. When the shutdowns occur, the movement of petroleum products through the pipeline between Strathcona County, AB and Burnaby, BC is stopped. When the maintenance is complete, the pipeline is then restarted and returned to service.

Shutdowns require careful and thorough planning. Our pipeline engineers assess and determine what maintenance is required based on data collected from inspections we conduct regularly on the pipeline. A job plan for the shutdown is then prepared that includes a safety review, job hazard analysis, required resources and permitting and stakeholder notification requirements for the planned work. The duration of the shutdown is also determined. Closer to the time of the shutdown, our crews prepare the worksites to ensure the equipment and resources required to perform the maintenance are in place.

The type of maintenance conducted during the shutdown can vary, but usually involve making key enhancements to our infrastructure; this may include modifying facility piping, repairing and replacing sections of pipeline, installing equipment such as valves and flow meters and performing tank maintenance. Depending on the maintenance required, there can be a number of projects occurring along our pipeline route during the shutdown.

Shutdowns allow our crews to perform important pipeline maintenance to ensure our pipeline operates for many years to come. Operating a safe and reliable pipeline system also makes good business sense. A well-maintained pipeline reliably transports the maximum volume of petroleum products for our customers. An efficient pipeline supports profitability for all companies in the supply chain and provides the energy needed to support the economy.