Enbridge Inc. and NDT Global are taking the next leap in integrity management by partnering in a multi-year research and development project to advance innovation in pipeline inspection technology and ultimately drive pipeline safety and reliability to a new level.
The collaboration agreement, announced April 4, focuses on the development of a new generation of inspection tool that is targeted to even further improve pipe crack assessment. Enbridge and NDT Global have already been working together for 15 years on pipeline inspections and are at the forefront of the industry in advancing crack assessment with high resolution ultrasonic inspections. This joint investment will bring further innovation and a new technology capability to the existing integrity management programs.
“At Enbridge, we are continually looking for opportunities to enhance existing technologies, and progress new ones, in the areas of design, construction, operation and maintenance, to keep our pipelines safe,” said Walter Kresic, vice president of pipeline integrity at Enbridge Pipelines Inc. “We believe this next generation project with NDT Global will build on the industry leading tools and technology we already use, and further enhance our ability to inspect, monitor and prioritize cracking threats in pipelines.”
Enbridge works with organizations around the globe that provide best-in-class technologies for keeping pipelines safe, assisting such organizations to develop the technologies, including inline inspection tools, ever further. Inline inspection tools, known in the industry as “intelligent pigs,” are highly complex pieces of equipment that use sophisticated sensor technology and powerful computation to inspect pipes millimeter by millimeter, with a level of detail similar to that provided by MRI and ultrasound technology in the medical industry. They are essential to Enbridge’s program of pipeline integrity management.
“NDT Global’s long-term goal is to eliminate pipeline failure due to pipe integrity defects,” said Mario Lemme, CEO of NDT Global. “Achieving this requires collaboration in long-term research and development projects. We are delighted to collaborate closely with Enbridge on this initiative, which offers a real opportunity to make a breakthrough in crack assessment capability.”
The scope of the new project is aimed at evolving existing inline inspection performance. Enbridge and NDT Global have set ambitious goals for improving the ability to accurately and consistently find crack features. An important step in this research and development program will be to prove the equipment capability by conducting test runs within the Enbridge pipelines in Canada and the United States.
Enbridge invests significantly in the fitness of its systems and in leak detection, and in the past five years spent more than $4.9-billion on programs that help Enbridge maintain the fitness of its systems across operations in Canada and the United States.
“Investing in research and innovation is an important component of our approach to pipeline safety, benefiting Enbridge and the industry as a whole,” Kresic concluded.