Myths vs Facts
MYTH: Pipelines are unsafe.
FACT: Pipelines are a safe and environmentally sound way of transporting large quantities of crude oil and natural gas over land.
Transmission pipelines in Canada operate with a 99.999% safety record, and incidents on pipelines are rare relative to other modes of transportation.
MYTH: Oil sands crude is more corrosive than other types of crudes and can cause damage to pipelines.
FACT: Pipelines transporting oil sands crude (diluted bitumen) are not at any greater risk of corrosion than pipelines carrying other types of petroleum products, such as conventional crude.
There is virtually no difference between oil sands crude and conventional crude oil. Our industry has been safely transporting diluted bitumen in pipelines for more than 30 years and conventional crude for more than 60 years.
MYTH: Diluted bitumen from the oil sands is harder to clean up if it spills from a pipeline.
FACT: In the event that diluted bitumen was to spill, the procedures for cleaning up the spill would be similar to cleaning up a conventional crude oil spill.
Environmental and site-specific conditions will determine the type of procedures and equipment used during the clean-up.
MYTH: Pipeline companies do not take responsibility for their spills.
FACT: In the event of a pipeline incident, pipeline companies are 100 per cent responsible to clean up the spill and to ensure any impacted land is remediated to as close to the original condition as possible.
MYTH: Pipeline companies run their pipelines at dangerously high pressure to reduce their operating costs.
FACT: Each pipeline has a maximum allowable operating pressure, and to exceed that maximum is prohibited by law.
It is typical for pipeline companies to operate their pipelines below the allowable maximum operating pressure.
MYTH: If pipelines are taken out of service because they are no longer needed (abandoned) the costs and risks associated with the abandoned pipeline falls to the owner of the land where the pipeline is located.
FACT: In Canada, by law, federally regulated pipeline companies, not the landowner, are responsible for the abandonment of their pipelines.
Pipeline companies are ultimately responsible for the full costs of operating and abandoning their pipelines they are held responsible for these costs by the regulator.
MYTH: Pipeline companies cut corners in areas such as safety to make more money.
FACT: Pipeline companies operate under financial regulation. Investments in pipeline safety and integrity are adequately covered by the tolls their customers (oil and gas producers ) pay them to transport their product.
There is no financial incentive for pipeline companies to cut safety expenses; in fact, there is a strong financial incentive to invest in pipeline safety so that their pipelines can continue to operate in a reliable manner.
MYTH: Canada’s pipelines are old and deteriorating, increasing the risk of spills.
FACT: With proper maintenance and monitoring a pipeline can be safely operated indefinitely.
Pipelines are subject to regular testing and assessment to ensure continued safe operations. The age of a pipeline is not in and of itself a reason for concern.
MYTH: Canada’s pipeline regulations are not strong enough.
FACT: The regulatory process to approve and maintain pipelines is rigorous and transparent to protect the public interest.
In addition, pipeline companies must meet numerous standards published by the Canadian Standards Association related to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipeline systems.