Much has changed in the design and operations of oil pipelines since the first were built in Canada and the United States during the 1860s. Those early small-diameter pipelines have long since been decommissioned, and modern-day pipelines benefit from some of the most advanced and environmentally-conscious technology available:
Centralized Control Centre
Centralized Control Centre monitors flow rates, pressures and fluid characteristics 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fluctuations can be quickly detected, alerting operators to potential leaks, and allowing them to shutdown lines and dispatch crews.
Check Valves are mechanical devices, that only permit flow in one direction. If upstream pipeline pressure reduces, the valve closes and stops the flow. If pressure downstream of a check valve exceeds the upstream pressure, the valve closes and stops the flow automatically. Accordingly, they are typically placed at the bottom of long inclines and on the downstream (relative to pipeline flow direction) side of major river crossings.
Block Valves are typically automated and can be controlled remotely. They feature an electric actuator that is connected via satellite or other communications system. If a problem is detected and sent to the Control Centre as an alarm, the operator will follow written procedures, which may include stopping the pipeline and closing the Block Valves to isolate the area until the condition can be investigated and resolved.
High-performance coating systems greatly reduce corrosion hazards.
Internal inspection tools called Smart Pigs are sent down the pipeline with the product. Carrying onboard computers and sensors, they measure the diameter of the pipe and the thickness of the pipe wall and can detect dents, gouges or other damage to pipeline. Ultrasonic or EMAT (Electro magnetic acoustical transmission) testing further detects signs of any corrosion or cracks that have initiated in the pipe.