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 can only open when upstream pressure exceeds downstream pressure. If the downstream pressure exceeds upstream pressure for any reason, then the valve automatically closes and reverse flow in the pipeline is blocked.
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.