Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Oil Spill Modelling

Hypothetical oil spills were assessed from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline that would transport Alberta oil sands crude to the British Columbia coast for export to overseas markets. This project involved construction of a new twin pipeline system running between Bruderheim, Alberta near Edmonton, to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, on the British Columbia coast. 525,000 barrels of crude oil per day would be piped west from Alberta to Kitimat, while 193,000 barrels of condensate per day would be brought to Kitimat on tankers and transported east through the pipeline to Alberta. The pipeline system would pass through many physiographic regions on its way to the coast, including prairies, foothills, and mountains, as well as crossing numerous streams. Hypothetical release modelling was carried out to support the environmental assessment being conducted. 

The goal was to determine the range of expected effects in the event of a release from the pipeline considering multiple sites, river flow rates, and oil types. SIMAP model results were also used as the foundation of the chronic toxicological and human health assessments conducted by project partners Stantec Inc. and Amec. Together, these studies made up the Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment (EHHRA). 

Timeline

  • 2011

    The project was started in December 2011.

  • 2012

    In May 2012, the Evaluation of the Fate and Effects of Oil Spills Along the Proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline Technical Report was completed.

  • 2012

    July 2012 marked the completion of the Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment. 

  • 2012

    October 2012-March 2013, Dr. Matthew Horn served as an expert witness on the Pipeline Operations, Emergency Preparedness and Response panel, and the Kitimat River Valley Design panel.

  • 2014

    In June 2014, after intense scrutiny by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and National Energy Board (NEB) Joint Review Panel (JRP) hearing process, the pipeline received conditional approval. 

  • 2014

    This project was completed in June 2014.

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2011

The project was started in December 2011.

2012

In May 2012, the Evaluation of the Fate and Effects of Oil Spills Along the Proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline Technical Report was completed.

2012

July 2012 marked the completion of the Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment. 

2012

October 2012-March 2013, Dr. Matthew Horn served as an expert witness on the Pipeline Operations, Emergency Preparedness and Response panel, and the Kitimat River Valley Design panel.

2014

In June 2014, after intense scrutiny by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and National Energy Board (NEB) Joint Review Panel (JRP) hearing process, the pipeline received conditional approval. 

2014

This project was completed in June 2014.

Key Details

Project Name

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Oil Spill Modelling

Client 

Enbridge, Inc.

Location

  • Alberta and British Columbia, Canada 

Sectors

  • Water management
  • Oil and gas
  • Power and gas networks
  • Storage

Challenge

RPS needed to identify potential effects released at any point along the proposed oil pipeline. Every oil spill is different, so the study was to quantitatively identify and bound the range of effects following potential hydrocarbon releases. Work was conducted to identify the criteria that would be used to consider the range of biophysical and environmental conditions, as well as public and tribal concerns to include sensitive and representative locations. This comprehensive assessment included an Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment (EHHRA) assessing the range of potential acute and chronic effects affecting both ecological and human receptors. Comprehensive spill modeling was used to assess route alternatives to minimize potential effects and inform oil spill response plans. 

Northern Gateway (NAM).jpg

Solution

Hypothetical releases of multiple oil types from points along the pipeline right-of-way were modeled using the OILMAPLand modeling system developed by RPS. This study was conducted for response planning purposes and a Semi-Quantitative Risk Assessment (SQRA) to provide hypothetical maximum extents and estimates of downstream travel times for spilled oil at over a thousand sites along the pipeline. A second modeling study was carried out using the SIMAP model system developed by RPS to assess the transport and fate of hydrocarbons as well as their acute toxicological effects. 

Services Provided

Design and development:  

  • Utility options and design – pipeline routing 

Water services: 

  • Water and wastewater network modelling and asset management – model hydrologic network and potential routes for hydrocarbon contamination of drinking water intakes and other susceptible resources 
  • Water quality modelling and monitoring – provide oil spill modeling that identifies the extent, timing, and potential magnitude of water quality impacts from hydrocarbon releases 

Other Services:

  • Numerical Modeling – unmitigated releases of hydrocarbons onto land and into water 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment 
  • Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment 
  • Expert Testimony

Environment:  

  • Contaminated land and remediation – identification of susceptible land following hypothetical releases. 
  • Ecology – identify potential effects to terrestrial and aquatic environments 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment – Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment 
  • Environmental permitting & compliance – Technical reports and numerical modeling completed to meet CEAA and NEB requirements 
  • Human Health Risk Assessment – preparation of Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment (Canada) using numerical modeling  
  • Hydrology / hydrogeology – hydrologic network and river modeling  
  • Spatial intelligence and GIS – Overlay of oil spill numerical modeling data onto areas of interest (AOI) and high consequence areas (HCA) as well as geospatial depiction of environmental data 
  • Software Development – Enhancements to oil spill modeling in freshwater environments 

Project Statistics

$5.5
billion in estimated costs
525,000
barrels of crude oil per day east to west
193,000
barrels of condensate per day west to east
731
miles (1,777 km) of pipeline