Innovative Solutions to Canada’s Pipeline Needs

February 06, 2017

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View of the Fort Hills Utilities & Offsites Project

Pipelines have been a key part of Canada’s prosperity for over 60 years. Similar to how railways or the Trans-Canada highway have contributed to nation building for goods and people, cross country pipelines have had a similar impact for the energy that is vital for Canadians and our international customers. Due to Canada’s vast size and the remote locations of oil and gas reserves relative to the consumers, pipelines are the only practical form of transportation to accommodate conduits between producers and consumers. Aside from being the most economical form of hydrocarbon transportation, they are also by far the safest form of transportation for oil and gas. Canada’s pipeline needs can be summarized in 3 key areas.

Market Diversification

Canada effectively has the United States as our single international customer for hydrocarbon products. Most of the major cross country pipelines in Canada go east to other domestic customers or south into the United States. This reliance on a single destination limits the potential value owners could be receiving for their products by marketing to the rest of the world. Projects such as Trans-Mountain or Energy East help drive higher profitability for Canadians and producers.

Diversification needs go beyond finding new markets for traditional products. Changing global energy demands and swings in commodity prices are also resulting in new products being produced. A Canadian LNG market is still a distinct possibility and petrochemical production is increasing as midstream shippers seek ways to diversify their portfolios along with taking advantage of new government grant programs encouraging investment.

These market shifts are coupled with new unconventional oil and gas plays in non-traditional production areas that also need a way to get to market. Whether it is existing products for new markets or new products for new markets, a diversified marketplace is certainly a driving force in the need for development of new pipeline infrastructure in Canada.

Energy Transitions

A second reason Canada needs new pipelines is in the support of transitioning to cleaner forms of energy for power production. With the Alberta government introducing an initiative to phase out coal fired power production by 2030, there will be increasing natural gas demands as the prime alternative energy source for the power industry. New pipelines will be required to support this initiative in the conversion of existing coal plants to natural gas.

Pipeline Integrity

A third reason Canada needs new pipelines is due to the replacement and repair of existing pipeline infrastructure, many of which are over 50 years old. Other integrity issues such as ground slope stability, permafrost thaw, river bank erosion, population density increases, etc. all result in the need to alter existing lines or install new pipelines.
Canada has some of the best regulatory processes, design standards, environmental standards and construction capabilities in the world. Canada is very well positioned to continue leveraging those factors in the development of future pipelines and other energy infrastructure moving forward.

Fluor has been part of the Canadian energy story for over 60 years with engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction (EPFC) services being provided on some of Canada’s largest and complex projects. Innovation and development of new, creative solutions to meet industry needs are central to everything we do and drives our ability to provide enhanced value to our clients. This includes pipeline design and construction where Fluor has developed industry leading design tools and techniques that underpin our offering to the Canadian market.

“Fluor recognizes the challenges the Canadian industry has to meeting the current and future pipeline needs. Aside from the regulatory and approval challenges, the economic climate demands the best and most innovative solutions to ensure costs are optimized and predictable. Fluor has developed, and continues to develop, industry leading approaches to pipeline projects that meet and exceed those needs” says Kevin Olson, Fluor Director of Pipelines.

Some of those techniques include the Zero Base design approach, EPFC focused on maximizing off site fabrication and strong integration between pipeline engineering and geomatics teams through the SmartLine design tool. For integrity driven opportunities and projects, Stork (a Fluor company) can provide fit for purpose solutions to meet many industry needs. Fluor knows that project success is all in the details and bridging project execution from front end development through the EPFC process to ultimately hand over for operation is a complex undertaking.

We have shown we can meet the challenge and continue to innovate and develop even better tools to stay at the forefront of full project delivery.


Terminal de LNG de Altamira, LNG Regasification Terminal

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