Given their economic importance and the potential they hold for negative environmental impact, pipelines must be built according to strict regulation. Variations for these regulations exist depending on the country and region, with cross-border transportation of petroleum products via pipeline typically overseen by a national body.
In Alberta, there are a number of regulations and programs in place to ensure the safe construction and operation of pipelines meant for transporting petroleum products within the province. Here’s an introduction to a few of the important ones worth knowing as a computer-aided designer working with pipelines.
Pipelines Must Be Designed According to Provincial Material & Design Standards
In Alberta, pipelines must adhere to the Pipeline Rules included within Alberta’s Pipeline Act. These address various qualities of pipelines, including materials they may or may not be constructed with, requirements for the inclusion of emergency shutdown devices to help deal with leaks, design stress levels, and others.
Failure to create and maintain pipelines that adhere to these standards can result in fines and shutdown, meaning they exert an important effect on the work done by professionals doing design and modeling work. Process piping training can help you master the technical skill required to take a preliminary design or set of design requirements and transform them into a model that meets the various standards required of pipelines in Alberta. This is a skillset that employers in the petroleum industry are likely to find very attractive, and could, therefore, help you land a great career.
Noncompliance Is Checked for Regularly by Government Inspectors
There is over 415,152 km of provincial pipelines in Alberta. As a result, it is not unexpected for government and private inspection of these pipelines to turn up occasional failures to comply with legislation.
Inspections take place throughout the process of construction, operation, and closing down of pipelines and related facilities. Safety, environmental impacts, and impacts on nearby resources are of particular concern during the inspection process.
Noncompliance during the construction and operation stages may necessitate additional or altered construction, often driven by a new or updated model created through professional process piping drafting. However, the industry is typically quite careful about meeting legal requirements, so noncompliance is more likely to arise after the pipeline has been in use for some time.
New Environmental Regulations Have Been Added for Process Piping Projects
Recently, the federal government introduced new requirements for environmental assessment. The effects a pipeline has on soil, wetland, and species health, as well as upon native land, human health, and other areas, need to all be considered before a pipeline project is approved.
An additional goal of these environmental assessments is to determine the likely greenhouse gas emissions that would be generated if the pipeline were to be approved. However, evidence suggests that pipelines may be better for the environment than rail transportation, meaning they could have an important advantage in the evaluation process.
With many of Alberta’s oil reserves yet to be tapped into, there is likely to be plenty more demand for infrastructure to get at and deliver new oil reserves. For professionals who are able to use CAD training to design structures that meet Alberta’s and Canada’s requirements for safely and efficiently transporting oil, this means there will likely be a healthy market for their skills for years to come.
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