TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. (TransCanada) operates approximately 37,000 km of natural gas gathering and transmission pipelines. Within the Alberta portion of this system there are almost 1100 locations where the pipeline(s) traverse slopes, primarily as the line approaches and exits stream crossings. In the past, the approach to managing the impact of slope movements on pipeline integrity has been reactive; site investigations and/or monitoring programs would only be initiated once the slope movements were sufficiently large so as to easily observe cracking or scarp development. In some cases these movements could lead to a pipeline rupture.
To move to a proactive hazard management approach and to optimize the maintenance expenditure, TransCanada has developed a new slope assessment methodology. The objective of this methodology is to establish a risk-ranked list of slopes upon which maintenance decisions can be based. Using only internal and public information on site conditions as input to predictive models for rainfall-ground movement and pipe-soil interaction, a probability of pipeline failure can be generated for each slope. Estimates of risk using a consequence-matrix approach enabled the compilation of a risk-ranked list of hazardous slopes.
This paper describes this methodology, and its implementation at TransCanada, and presents some of the results.