During the regulatory phase of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project (Northern Gateway), the Joint Review Panel (JRP) requested information on “how the risk factors resulting from the geotechnical and geographic aspects of the pipeline will be taken into account” and to demonstrate “the integration of risk factors with the environmental and socio-economic consequences from potential hydrocarbon releases”. Furthermore, the JRP required Northern Gateway to identify where a risk-based approach to design would be used to address geotechnical and seismic hazards, valve locations for spill consequence reduction and risk reduction in consequence areas”. [1]

To meet this requirement a semi-quantitative risk assessment (SQRA) was undertaken. Risk was defined as a function of probability and consequence, where the probability (expressed as a frequency) of loss of pipe integrity was quantitatively determined and the consequence of failure was qualitatively determined. The frequency of failure was a probabilistic combination of the calculated probability of failure from reliability methods, historical frequencies and assessed geo-hazard failure frequency rates. Consequence scoring was based on intersection of theoretical spills with “consequence areas” for environmental or socio-economic effects Frequency and consequence were then combined to provide risk scoring and ranking.

Failure frequencies were developed using reliability methods where appropriate. The use of reliability methods addresses the primary challenge associated with quantifying risk for new pipelines as industry failure statistics are not directly applicable to modern pipeline designs, materials, and operating practices. In the pipeline industry, reliability models exist for the most significant threats, including third-party damage, internal corrosion and external corrosion. In addition, geotechnical threats can be characterized in terms of expected magnitude and associated frequency of occurrence, thereby enabling pipeline reliability to be established for each geo-hazard.

Consequence scoring was based on modeling full bore rupture spill scenarios and determining whether these spills would potentially intersect identified “consequence areas”.

Over the course of the application and hearing process two SQRA’s were undertaken. Following the filing of the first SQRA, additional measures were included in the pipeline design to reduce the frequency of failure and to reduce potential consequences. This resulted in the calculated overall risk being reduced by a factor of 84%, primarily due to increases in wall thickness resulting in a reduction in the likelihood of 3rd party damage and in a reduction of consequence by an increased number of valves.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.