Lifecycle of a Pipeline Header

Lifecycle of an Enbridge pipeline

At Enbridge, the safety of people, and protection of the environment, is our top priority throughout the entire pipeline lifecycle.

Explore that lifecycle below with a step-by-step interactive journey.

PLEASE NOTE: The objects and terrain presented in this experience are not to scale.

Design and Construction

Safety and reliability are built into Enbridge’s energy infrastructure before, during and after the construction phase.We take care to limit our footprint, and actively manage potential effects on communities and the environment, as we build our pipeline projects.

Where possible, we use existing access routes to and from construction sites, minimize temporary workspace and curtail ground disturbance.

Screening and planning

It can take seven to nine years to build a pipeline. But it all begins with a need for energy.

We assess both the supply and demand for oil and energy over the long term, and carefully calculate the economic feasibility of a particular pipeline.

The Planning Process
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The planning process

Planning overview

Our focus is on respecting communities and the environment. We have an unwavering commitment to safety, reliability and meeting or exceeding regulatory standards.

Community engagement

This includes roundtable discussions with municipalities, landowners and Indigenous community, presentations from subject-matter experts and community open houses, coffee talks and personal interactions.

Consulting with Indigenous groups

We’re committed to providing training and employment to members of Indigenous and Native American communities, and creating meaningful opportunities for Indigenous and Native American businesses. We also consult with Indigenous and Native American groups to potentially reroute around sensitive corridors.

Route planning considerations

We plan our projects with care. To help minimize our environmental footprint, we use pre-existing utility corridors where possible.

We comply with all environmental regulations and permits and seek oversight from trained, experienced environmental inspectors and resource specialists.

Discussions with government agencies

We work continuously with regulatory agencies and build environmental evaluations into construction planning.

The U.S. and Canada have had pipeline rules and guidelines in place for decades, resulting in two of the most highly regulated, and safest, pipeline industry environments in the world.

Depending on the project, we may use environmental field survey crews to evaluate and potentially reroute around environmentally sensitive areas.

Wildlife protection strategies include wildlife baseline studies, remote camera monitoring and winter track surveys.

Approval through regulatory agencies

An application is submitted to the appropriate agency, or agencies, to initiate the regulatory review process.

Design and construction

Safety and reliability are built into Enbridge’s energy infrastructure before, during and after the construction phase.

We take care to limit our footprint, and actively manage potential effects on communities and the environment, as we build our pipeline projects.

Field surveys and staking

Field surveys are conducted along the proposed right-of-way (ROW) to understand environmental, developmental and local issues.

Once the route is final, the location is marked with stakes.

Field surveys and staking

Field surveys are conducted along the proposed right-of-way (ROW) to understand environmental, developmental and local issues.

Once the route is final, the location is marked with stakes.

Learn more about pipeline study corridors, and the surveying and staking process.

Working with Landowners

We establish project-specific biosecurity plans with the help of landowners, including making sure all of our equipment is clean and free of weeds, soil and debris.

We take measures to control and contain weeds and soil-borne pathogens, based on the level of risk at the construction site.

Clearing

To prepare for construction, crews mulch and/or clear and salvage trees, where warranted, along the ROW and temporary workspace.

Stripping and storing topsoil

We take careful consideration when removing topsoil from the ROW. For biosecurity reasons, we take special care in agricultural areas to separate and store the topsoil and subsoil so they don’t mix.

Working with landowners

We establish project-specific biosecurity plans with the help of landowners, including making sure all of our equipment is clean and free of weeds, soil and debris.

We take measures to control and contain weeds and soil-borne pathogens, based on the level of risk at the construction site.

Grading

Once topsoil has been stripped and stored to meet specifications, the subsoil along the ROW is graded to enable a safe pipeline installation.

Grading

Once topsoil has been stripped and stored to meet specifications, the subsoil along the ROW is graded to enable a safe pipeline installation.

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The "gold standard" for pipe steel.
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Pipeline Steel

The heart of our business is the pipe in the ground. Enbridge's demands for pipeline steel exceed industry standards, and we select, inspect and test our line pipe before it’s used in construction.

Our pipe steel itself is made of 96% recycled metal. This alloy is not only a greener product, but also represents excellent chemistry for line pipe.

Weld quality in the pipe mill is examined by the manufacturer using automated ultrasonic devices, and Enbridge inspectors audit those results.

Learn more.

Stringing

Crews re-stake the center of the trench, and place (or “string out”) sections of the pipe along the ROW.

Bending

Crews bend the sections of pipe to match engineering specifications and follow the contours of the land.

Welding

The pipe is welded into sections, and eventually one long segment, using pipe that’s been carefully selected and tested. Each weld is inspected via either X-ray or ultrasound technology.

Coating

The entire segment of pipe, including weld joints, is coated with a robust corrosion inhibitor.

Bending

Crews bend the sections of pipe to match engineering specifications and follow the contours of the land.

Welding

The pipe is welded into sections, and eventually one long segment, using pipe that’s been carefully selected and tested. Each weld is inspected via either X-ray or ultrasound technology.

See our infographic on the welding process Enbridge follows to keep our pipes strong and healthy.

Coating

The entire segment of pipe, including weld joints, is coated with a robust corrosion inhibitor.

Lowering-in

Using multiple sidebooms, or cranes, the pipe is lowered into the trench.

Trenching

Crews use backhoes or wheel ditchers to dig the pipeline trench.

Lowering-in

Using multiple sidebooms, or cranes, the pipe is lowered into the trench.

Trenching

Crews use backhoes or wheel ditchers to dig the pipeline trench.

River crossings

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) technology is deployed to lay pipelines beneath large rivers or sensitive crossings.

ALSO SEE: World's longest HDD project under Mississippi River a 'mind-boggling' feat of engineering

River crossings

In the case of large rivers or certain sensitive crossings, Enbridge uses horizontal directional drilling (HDD) technology when possible to install underground pipelines.

HDD projects can be completed in a way that minimizes impact to landowners, communities and the environment, even in sensitive areas.

ALSO SEE: HDD project in Alberta folds in leak detection technology

ALSO SEE: World's longest HDD project under Mississippi River a 'mind-boggling' feat of engineering

See HDD diagram
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Horizontal directional drilling

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24/7 monitoring and remotely controlled valves.
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Remotely controlled isolation valves

Isolation valves are used to control or halt the flow of crude oil and other liquids, and represent an invaluable piece of safety equipment on a pipeline system.

We place remotely controlled isolation valves at strategic locations along our pipeline network to minimize potential incidents.

Enbridge's pipeline control center staff, who monitor our pipeline system 24/7/365, can close an isolation valve immediately upon detection of a problem, with full closure within three minutes of activation.

Learn more about Enbridge’s Intelligent Valve Placement (IVP) methodology.

Backfilling

The trench is carefully backfilled and compacted with subsoil.

Backfilling

The trench is carefully backfilled and compacted with subsoil.

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Safety and the environment.
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Safety and the environment.

This downloadable, printable infographic details the safety and reliability that are built into Enbridge's energy infrastructure--before, during and after the construction phase.

Download PDF

Hydrostatic Testing

Each section of pipe is filled with water and subjected to extreme operating pressures to ensure the strength of the pipe and welds.


LEARN MORE

Cleanup and Reclamation

The ROW is restored to its original condition. Topsoil is replaced and reseeded; other restoration methods include tree planting and environmental monitoring.

Hydrostatic testing

Each section of pipe is filled with water and subjected to extreme operating pressures to ensure the strength of the pipe and welds.


LEARN MORE

Cleanup and restoration

The ROW is restored to its original condition. Topsoil is replaced and reseeded; other restoration methods include tree planting and environmental monitoring.

This process is known as restoration in the U.S., and reclamation in Canada. Learn more about the process here.

Operations and Maintenance

Once a pipeline enters service, it enjoys a very long life, through safe operations,
prevention, monitoring and maintenance activities. We work hard to meet or exceed
the strict safety and reliability standards enforced in the United States and Canada.

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Preventative maintenance digs.
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Maintaining pipeline fitness

Preventative maintenance digs are an important part of keeping our pipelines healthy and fit for purpose.

When our state-of-the-art in-line inspection (ILI) tools, using ultrasound or magnetic flux leakage (MFL) technology, find something that requires a closer look, we excavate the pipe at that location so we can examine it and make any necessary repairs.

Sometimes we find that no repair is required, but each of these preventative maintenance digs adds to our overall knowledge about the line’s condition.

Watch the video

Operations and maintenance

Once a pipeline enters service, it enjoys a very long life, through safe operations,
prevention, monitoring and maintenance activities. We work hard to meet or exceed
the strict safety and reliability standards enforced in the United States and Canada.


LEARN MORE

Decommissioning

Landowners are not responsible for Enbridge's decommissioned or deactivated pipelines. We are—forever.

View our Decommissioning PDF

Safety

Now that you've explored what we do to safely plan, build, operate and maintain our pipelines, you may want to explore all of the ways Enbridge works to ensure safety for our communities across our facilities and operations.

LEARN MORE

Decommissioning (Canada)/Deactivation (U.S.)

Landowners are not responsible for Enbridge's decommissioned or deactivated pipelines. When Enbridge decommissions a pipeline, we remain responsible.

View our Decommissioning PDF

Our responsibility
We remove any oil from the line, wipe and clean the walls, and physically disconnect the pipeline from our network.

Continuous monitoring
We continue to monitor decommissioned or deactivated pipelines, just as we do with active pipelines. This includes:

  • Cathodic protection to curb corrosion
  • Maintaining the corridor, signage and contact info
  • Maintaining the pipeline’s profile for Call/Click Before You Dig programs

 

Minimizing impacts
Decommissioned or deactivated pipelines are left in place to minimize the effect on communities and the environment.

Long-term stability
A decommissioned or deactivated pipeline has a very long remaining life as a load-bearing structure. This reduces the risk of soil stability issues, and avoids major construction activities required to remove the pipe.

Now that you've explored what we do to safely plan, build, operate and maintain our pipelines, learn the various ways Enbridge works to ensure safety for the communities near our operations.