Pipeline Integrity: System-Wide Geohazards Risk Assessment


An Integrity Management Program (IMP) related bulletin was issued by Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in 2019 to mandate the management of slope instability through IMPs. The objective of the project was to develop and enhance the client’s Geohazards IMP using a phased approach to be compliant with AER’s bulletin. A system-wide GIS-based assessment was carried out to identify potentially high-risk assets based on landslide susceptibility, age of the pipeline, and substance carried.


Vertex processed the client’s system-wide pipeline network to identify different categories of slopes such as 0 – 5%, 5 – 10%, etc. using provincial Digital Elevation Model data. A GIS-based approach was used to assign landslide susceptibility to the entire network. A risk matrix was then created by considering risk factors of landslide susceptibility, pipeline age, and substance carried. The entire system was assigned geohazards risk ranging from very low to high.


A total of approximately 2% of the system was identified as high-risk from a landslide perspective and approximately 7% as moderate-risk, providing the client with a priority-based recommendation for detailed assessments. Detailed assessments include site-specific desktop studies and site-specific field reconnaissance, excluding any remediation work. With the narrowed down risk, the client will only need to spend a valuable budget amount for detailed assessments on 9% of the system. Recommendations were provided using a phased approach framework with details on different phases, examples of methods and data to be used, examples of outcomes, and examples. This framework is also compliant with CSA-Z662 Annex N. Phase II was proposed to carry out a site-specific desktop assessment using LiDAR and satellite data as the next steps of integrity management. Deliverables included a technical report, maps of risk ranking, and an interactive Power BI dashboard.

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