Trans Mountain’s pipeline integrity management program is comprehensive and ever evolving. Our committed and diverse integrity team works to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline. Safety of the public and environment is paramount.

We deploy the latest technologies and techniques to monitor, investigate and mitigate threats to the pipeline. This includes smart pig or in-line inspection (ILI) runs, anomaly investigation digs, corrosion control surveys and mitigation projects, along with multiple other initiatives including natural hazard surveys and inspections.

Guided by our system-wide integrity management plan, we undertake many projects each year. In 2018 alone, we completed more than 1,400 kilometres of in-line inspection runs, nearly 100 anomaly investigation digs and the installation of several corrosion control systems.

Other notable achievements for 2018 included:

  • three new valve upgrades designed to reduce consequence potential;
  • nine cathodic protection ground bed installations (corrosion control);
  • more than 325 kilometres of pipeline imagery and three-dimensional ground surface data collected; and
  • nearly 400 kilometres of pipeline surveyed for cathodic protection.

Andrew Greig, Trans Mountain senior engineer, technical services, noted the increasingly sophisticated technology used to support the team’s work.

“The ability of in-line inspection tools (smart pigs) to detect potential pipeline defects has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two decades. Mirroring the massive advances of the electronics industry, these tools have improved dramatically in their data-carrying capacity, processing and detection and characterization capabilities,” he said.

“Looking at modern ILI versus 1998 ILI would be like comparing the capabilities of a 1998 Motorola cell phone to the latest smartphones in 2018. And just like the electronics industry, the in-line inspection industry continues to advance with new types of sensors, higher resolutions, volume of data collected, and perhaps most significantly, with the tool vendor data analysis processes to interpret the data collected by the tools for communication to pipeline operators.”

Some integrity team members are based in Calgary at Trans Mountain’s head office while others live in communities along the route from Edmonton to Burnaby.

“Linear assets like the Trans Mountain Pipeline require a fair bit of travel — an appreciation for working in the outdoors is a must. Working in the outdoors also fosters a level of environmental appreciation that only serves to heighten our resolve to protect and maintain the pipeline,” Greig said.

The work also generates employment for local contractors along the pipeline route. “Local contractors, including many that are First Nation-owned, are used almost exclusively for our in-field integrity work — the anomaly investigation digs.”

Greig said he finds “great satisfaction knowing that my hard work every day contributes to the safe operation of a piece of infrastructure that is so critical to the livelihoods of so many.”

“I am also quite proud in the knowledge that the dedication our team puts towards the integrity of the line protects what I would consider some of the most beautiful environment in the world. And this sense of accomplishment only serves to reinforce my commitment to the safe operation of the system, as we strive for continuous improvement.

“And though I’m well aware that folks don’t necessarily understand or appreciate the work we do, it gives me a whole new appreciation for those people who maintain the critical infrastructure I depend on every day.”