How We Prevent Incidents

For Enbridge, our primary duty is to protect the safety of people and the environment while safely delivering the energy we all count on. That means anticipating and addressing potential problems to prevent incidents long before they occur. This approach guides every one of our decisions, actions and interactions as we plan and build new projects, and as we operate and maintain our systems, every day.

Case Study

Technical innovation with teeth

It starts with a Shark Tank scenario.

And as technology appraisal goes, it’s got teeth.

It’s the intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPIPE), a North Dakota-based consortium of companies in the upstream and midstream pipeline industry that Enbridge joined as a member in April 2019.

The partnership was formed to accelerate development of next-generation technologies to better prevent and detect leaks on gathering pipelines. It not only allows developers to test their technology capability on operating pipeline networks—it also has an intriguing method of selecting those innovators.

“Every year we have two days’ worth of Shark Tank-type meetings where pipeline integrity or leak detection vendors pitch their products to the companies in the consortium. We get together, ask questions and vote on the technologies we believe have the most potential,” says Cam Meyn, Supervisor of Leak Detection Testing and Research for Enbridge’s Liquids Pipelines group.

“It’s a very productive format,” adds Phil Martin, a Technology and Information Services Manager with Enbridge’s Liquids Pipelines Leak Detection team.

“For the consortium, it’s extremely nimble and things move very quickly on the evaluation front. For the vendors, it’s a chance to demonstrate their technology on live systems, real pipelines, which is very difficult for a lot of them to do on their own.”

Throughout ongoing evaluations, members of iPIPE have immediate access to research and development results. Since 2018, the consortium has reviewed a wide range of technologies, with promising new systems being tested on upstream and midstream pipeline networks in North Dakota. This includes innovative technologies such as a golf-ball-sized inline inspection tool and a polymer nanocomposite for leak detection.

Additionally, Enbridge is helping to evaluate a satellite-based leak and threat detection system that leverages machine-learning techniques. The first stage involved leak detection experts collaborating with the North Dakota region through a 16-week monitoring and field-checking exercise on the company’s North Dakota pipelines. The results helped refine the satellite-based detection system’s algorithms to bring the technology closer to commercial reality.

“We were planning on looking at some of these technologies anyway. But here was a group working together, sharing information, accelerating the process, and learning from each other,” says Ray Philipenko, Director of Enbridge’s Pipeline Control System and Leak Detection team.

Enbridge participated in the iPipe 2019 Satelytics assessment program through two major involvements. The first was monitoring and analysis of all Satelytics alerts issued for Enbridge assets. The second was through the completion of an Enbridge-based field-testing program to test the sensitivity and reliability of Satelytics leak detection capabilities.

The Enbridge assessment was framed by adapting the API-1130 leak detection performance metrics of sensitivity, reliability, robustness and accuracy. The iPIPE program included 45 km (28 miles) of pipeline assets, with 16 successful weekly satellite captures completed in 2019 for summer conditions and an additional 16 weekly captures in 2020 for winter conditions. The 2019 field test program was successfully completed and included seven unannounced leak simulation tests within the Beaver Lodge Terminal.

The iPipe consortium aligns with Enbridge’s commitment to pursue innovation and technology solutions to achieve higher levels of safety, both in its own operations and throughout the pipeline industry.

At a company level, this responsibility resides in the Technology + Innovation Lab, a leading-edge, data-driven workspace based in both Calgary and Houston and tasked with enabling rapid evolution and adoption of new technologies that can drive even better safety performance.

The Technology + Innovation Lab melds traditional industry expertise in engineering and operations with skillsets in data science, technology and design to enable breakthrough ideas that improve all aspects of company performance.

“The iPipe consortium is one example of how Enbridge’s Technology and Information Services is driving external industry collaboration to improve pipeline safety and reliability. It’s a win-win for Enbridge and the industry,” says Bhushan Ivaturi, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

Inspection tool run at an Enbridge tank terminal 
Welders working on a pipe 

Safety app highlights meeting of safety culture and technology

Technological innovation coupled with a strong safety culture ultimately enables improved safety performance.

That’s the Enbridge philosophy in a nutshell: the belief that a “hearts and minds” approach is needed. Put simply, neither technological innovation nor a strong safety culture alone will drive continuous improvement and vigilance.

The new safety submission app launched by Enbridge last year encapsulates this complementary relationship.

The app is the result of a partnership between Enbridge’s Safety & Reliability and Technology & Information Services teams, and employees can download it to their mobile devices and use it for real-time reporting of opportunities to improve safety on the go, wherever and whenever they occur.

“This app expedites safety submissions from our employees and contractors and helps to proactively drive improved safety performance,” says Sean Evans, Enbridge’s Director of Health & Safety. “The technology is easy to use and allows us to quickly see themes or trends in the submissions so that we can take action to enhance safety.”

Employees quickly adopted the app after its launch in August 2019, highlighting the symbiosis between technological innovation and a strong safety culture.

“Given that the user experience is simple and easy to navigate, we fully expect increased usage of the app and in the quality of our safety data,” Sean adds.

“This technology makes it easier for our people to capture more information, more quickly, to drive improved safety performance and enhance our safety culture.”

Safety Culture Framework helps map an even safer future

At Enbridge, we know that we need to build and sustain a strong safety culture to deliver on our commitment to outstanding safety performance. That means getting all members of our team pulling in the same direction, with a clear understanding of why safety is our top priority in every decision, action and interaction, what we’re striving to achieve and how they can help propel us on our journey.

But safety culture can be difficult to define, even though it touches every aspect of our business every day.

That’s where Enbridge’s Safety Culture Framework, which we launched in early 2019, guides how we need to think about safety, and, importantly, the specific behaviors and actions that contribute to a strong safety culture and drive excellent safety performance.

The framework was the result of four years of focused effort, including consultation and best-practice sharing with recognized safety leaders in high-reliability industries like nuclear power and aviation, leading academics and researchers, and our colleagues and regulators in the energy industry.

Enbridge Safety Culture Framework identifies four key traits—leadership, ownership, vigilance and resilience—that, taken together, create the model for a strong, well-functioning and sustainable safety culture. We break each of those traits down into attributes and key behaviors that we can measure through regular surveys and assessments, allowing us to track them over time and map them against our teams’ safety performance.

“The Safety Culture Framework is much more than a tool to assess our safety culture,” says Sean Evans, Enbridge’s Director of Health and Safety. “It’s also a roadmap that will help us build a world-class safety culture over time, guiding its evolution and growth, identifying the behaviors and attitudes we want to foster within our team and those we need to safeguard against as we strive to protect the public, our team and the environment from harm.”

Over the next three years Enbridge will integrate the Safety Culture Framework further into the organization, through safety culture workshops for leaders, implementation of action plans based on the results of an enterprise-wide safety culture perception survey in 2019, regular departmental self-assessments and targeted deep dive assessments of select teams.

Enbridge safety culture icons 

Eyes in the night sky can make a lifetime of difference

For us, prevention is about more than operating our pipelines and facilities safely.

Safety is one of our core values, and the very foundation of our business. Our safety mindset extends off the job and into the community, which is why Enbridge invests in programs and initiatives that enhance public safety.

One such example in 2019 was a $10,000 Safe Community donation to assist the Local HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization) Foundation, based in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Local HERO was formed in 2013 by Paul Spring based on his steadfast belief that when emergency medical help is needed, rescuers shouldn’t be kept in the dark.

Prior to the launch of Local HERO, medical evacuations in the Wood Buffalo region of northern Alberta were limited to daylight hours and subject to helicopter availability.

Today, seven years since it was established, Local HERO is now the sole provider of 24/7, helicopter-based emergency medevac services in the area, with a crew standing by at all times.

Because for the patients, every second counts.

“We can’t do much for a stroke patient, for example, in the field. They need to be transported to the hospital as quickly as possible so the type of stroke can be diagnosed and treatment started,” says Spring.

In addition, Local HERO was one of the first privately-owned companies to acquire night vision goggles in Canada following certification in December 2013.

This equipment is critical to providing 24-hour service particularly during short winter days, when there may be less than 7 hours of daylight.

Enbridge’s donation ensured the significant cost of the goggles would not be an obstacle to providing timely emergency response in wintry or dark conditions.

“A patient that would only take six or seven minutes to reach by helicopter may have to wait hours for a ground crew to arrive,” says Spring.

“We’re helping people not only survive, but by getting to them sooner, we also help them have a quicker and more successful recovery. There’s a lot of fulfillment in that role.”

Local HERO has performed more than 425 medical evacuations since 2013. The Fort McMurray Fire Department provides all medical supplies and personnel, who are trained as both paramedics and firefighters.

A team of two pilots and two paramedics are standing by all times, ready to provide care to individuals in situations such as motor vehicle collisions, workplace incidents, recreational vehicle crashes and medical emergencies.

Through the Safe Community grants program, Enbridge has provided more than US$11.8 million to first response agencies since 2002 to keep people safe in the communities where many of our employees live and work.

"We hear, time and time again, of the positive impact the Safe Community program has in the community, where first responders are often perennially cash constrained – particularly in rural areas,” says Gina Jordan, Manager of Community Investment.

“Our hope is that these dollars go a long way towards supporting safety through enabling the purchase of essentials, many which turn out to be life-saving.”

Air ambulance rescue scene on highway 

Focusing on our failures to make us safer

It might be human nature to try to forget one’s failures or put them in the past, but at Enbridge we regard every incident and near miss as a lesson to be learned and a story to be told and retold.

Our incident investigations drive down to root causes and guide our implementation of effective measures to prevent them from recurring.

And because we want to ensure that we share and remember the hard lessons we learned, we also strive to keep the emotional connection to safety front and center.

To foster a strong culture and ensure that every employee and contractor understands their duty to be safe we regularly take time to stop and engage the team on safety.

This includes daily safety moments and tailgate talks, as well as safety observation programs to promote vigilance on and off the job.

Each year we develop case studies based on recent incidents, focusing on the human factors and failed safety barriers that contributed to them and prompting team discussion.

In addition, each year we pause, as an organization, and take a close look at significant safety failures from our history through our Foundational Safety Stories. The anniversaries of these incidents present an opportunity to remind every member of the team of the human, community and environmental toll of incidents and to reinforce our belief that every incident can be prevented.

By the Numbers


In 2019, we spent more than C$1.7 billion on programs that help us to maintain the fitness of our systems across our operations in the U.S. and Canada.


Last year we invested C$15.7 million on advanced leak detection systems to boost our ability to identify small leaks early and respond more quickly and effectively.


In 2019, we carried out over 450 inline inspections of our crude oil and natural gas transmission and distribution systems, using sophisticated tools that travel within our pipelines to assess their health, millimeter by millimeter, from the inside out.


Last year Enbridge completed nearly 2,000 preventive maintenance digs across our liquids and natural gas systems, excavating our pipelines to take a closer look, confirm their health and make any repairs, if required.

15,000 and 806,000

In 2019, Enbridge Gas Inc. conducted leak surveys on more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) of distribution mains in Ontario and Quebec and surveyed more than 806,000 services used to carry gas from the mains to customers’ residences.