ERCB issues approval for the resumption of pipeline operations to Plains Midstream Canada
Calgary… The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has issued final approval to Plains Midstream Canada (Plains) to resume operations of the NPS 20 Rainbow Pipeline. The approval follows a comprehensive review and assessment, a third-party engineering review of the incident, and a number of conditions Plains was required to complete following the pipeline failure on April 28, 2011.
Plains is responsible for ensuring that the pipeline can be safely operated within all regulatory requirements. In obtaining approval for the resumption of operations, Plains has confirmed it has met the following conditions:
- Completion of work, to readiness for backfill, of all excavated sites inspected as per ERCB’s direction of May 17, 2011 (five priority sites and five additional sites);
- Implementation of weekly aerial surveillance of the pipeline to monitor for geotechnical hazards;
- Improved procedures and operations to ensure effective response should another failure occur; and
- Implementation of a Community Consultation Plan submitted to the ERCB on May 12, 2011, which includes meetings with local stakeholders prior to resumption of operations.
In addition, following the resumption of operations, the ERCB requires Plains to submit monthly progress reports and attend monthly meetings with ERCB personnel to ensure effective implementation of conditions of approval and regulatory requirements.
The engineering assessments concluded that the April 28, 2011 failure was due to high- stress on an existing crack in a fillet weld that was made on a weld-on sleeve. Plains has committed to excavating and inspecting all sections of the pipeline containing these types of weld-on sleeves on an expedited schedule.
The interim maximum operating pressure of the pipeline has been limited to 5500 kPa, which is 75% of the pipeline’s maximum operating pressure. The ERCB will actively monitor the resumption of operations of the Rainbow pipeline. A start-up date has not been confirmed.
The ERCB continues its official investigation into the incident and will issue a full report at a later date.