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Canada’s pipelines form major Energy Highways. Approximately 115 000 km of pipeline transport all of Canada’s daily crude and natural gas production.

Oil & Gas Pipelines: Part I – Canada’s Energy Highways

In Canada we call them Energy Highways. Like roads and railways, Canada’s transmission pipelines form a major transportation network.

Approximately 115 000 km of underground pipeline transport virtually all of Canada’s daily crude and natural gas production.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate in Canada and in the United States. Through regular publications and studies, the CEPA works to improve pipeline safety, regulatory engagement, transparency and sustainability of the industry. It also works toward trust and credibility, and facilitating the exchange of ideas and best practices.

IsoMetrix has recently established an office in Toronto, Canada, to serve as an entry-point for its expansion into the North American market. IsoMetrix has a strong footprint in the Oil and Gas industry and Canada represents a key player in this industry. Pipelines are a critical part of Canada’s oil, petroleum products and natural gas delivery network.

IsoMetrix empowers customers with visible and effective risk management, reporting and decision making. This technology is essential to the pipeline industry to build and maintain safe pipelines.

The importance of Canada’s pipelines

Canada is the fifth-largest producer of natural gas and crude oil in the world with extensive oil and natural gas reserves across the country. Energy resource development is active in 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, using an extensive supply chain network goods and services from many regions.

Canadian energy production has almost doubled since 1980. Oil reserves total 172 billion barrels, of which 166 billion barrels can be recovered from the oil sands using modern technology. As of December 2015, Canada is third after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia in terms of global oil reserves.

Here are some key facts on the importance of Canada’s pipelines:

  • These energy highways move approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year. In Canada, every day, CEPA companies transport enough crude oil and petroleum products to fill 15 000 tanker truck loads or 4 200 rail cars.
  • The oil and gas sector contributes to the strength of Canada’s economy, directly and indirectly, employing over 360 000 people and generating almost 8% of GDP in 2013.
  • More than half the homes in Canada are heated by natural gas.
  • The oil and gas sector contributed an average of $23.3 billion over the last five years in taxes, royalties and fees to government. This revenue helps to support public pensions, provide health care and build schools as well as hospitals, housing and highways.
  • Canada currently has one major export customer for its oil and gas. In 2013 100% of natural gas exports and 97% of oil exports went to the United States.

To learn more about the importance of Canada’s pipelines, visit the CEPA or Natural Resources Canada.

A growing market

As a result of strong growth in the US and Canadian oil and natural gas production, pipeline capacity is expected to become constrained in the next few years, requiring new pipelines and pipeline expansions to provide access to new markets. A number of pipeline projects are being proposed to connect the growing supply with replacement markets in Eastern Canada then beyond to growing global markets in Asia and India.

Canada has a large network of pipelines – over 830 000 km – but they’re not the same. Different types of pipelines are used for oil and gas transportation, and each varies in its size and function:

  • Liquids pipelines are used to transport crude oil or natural gas liquids from producing fields to refineries, where they are turned into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. Some liquids pipelines are also used to transport these finished petroleum products from refineries to terminals and distribution centres in or nearby large population centres.

  • Natural gas pipelines are used to transport natural gas from gas wells, to processing plants, to distribution systems throughout Canada. Unlike refined petroleum products, natural gas is delivered directly to homes and businesses through an extensive network of very small diameter distribution pipelines.

Learn more about the different types of pipelines.

 A proud history in Canada

Canada has a proud history of pipeline construction and operation dating back to 1853 when a 25 kilometre cast-iron pipe moving natural gas to Trois Rivières (Quebec) was completed. It was probably the longest pipeline in the world at the time. In 1862, Canada would complete one of the world’s first oil pipelines, from the Petrolia oilfield in Petrolia to Sarnia (Ontario).

By 1947, three oil pipelines moved products to market in Canada. One transported oil from Turner Valley to Calgary (Alberta). A second moved imported crude from coastal Maine to Montreal (Quebec) and the third brought American mid-continent oil into Ontario.

With the discovery of an abundant supply of crude oil and natural gas in the west, Canada’s oil and gas industry began expanding its vast pipeline network in the 1950s. This expansion contributed significantly to the development of domestic and international markets, while propelling the Canadian economy forward.

Learn more about the History of Canadian Pipelines.

Next Week: Part II – Building and maintaining safe pipelines

In our next post we will detail how the IsoMetrix Social Sustainability and HSE solutions can support the pipeline industry in building and maintaining safe pipelines.



About the Author

Benoit Froment

Benoit Froment was appointed as Director: North America for Metrix Software Solutions in October 2015. Benoit is responsible for leading the IsoMetrix operations in the US and Canada, including Sales and Marketing, Implementation and Customer Support. He is also an IsoMetrix Subject Matter Expert in Social Sustainability.