Pipeline Operators to Pilot Fiber-Optic Technology to Avoid Pipeline Spills

Canadian pipeline operators Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corp are piloting a fiber-optic system to help avoid spills.

The system involves installing fiber-optic wire inside or alongside a pipeline which will measure acoustic, temperature, and vibration data as well as alert the pipeline operator if construction work is getting too close to the line.

The technology, developed by Calgary-based Hifi Engineering, can pinpoint leaks and other disturbances down to the centimeter in real time.

Enbridge will deploy the technology on a 20-mile segment of its Norlite diluent pipeline in Alberta, and TransCanada will deploy the technology on short sections near the start of its Keystone pipeline in Alberta as well as around its terminus in Houston next year.

According to Hifi Energy, the cost of installing the technology along new pipeline represents about 0.5 percent of the cost of a new pipeline construction.