Member initiative: Early stakeholder engagement key to success on Alliance Pipeline’s Regina Bypass project
Third-party crossings on pipeline systems are common for CEPA members, so natural gas transporter Alliance Pipeline wasn’t surprised to be involved in accommodating the Regina Bypass. However, once Alliance received a full briefing from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways in 2015, it was clear this project would be much more than a routine third-party crossing.
The Regina Bypass is the largest transportation infrastructure project in Saskatchewan’s history. When completed in 2019, the bypass highway will cross a variety of existing infrastructure and utilities, including Alliance’s main pipeline (or mainline) in two locations.
For Alliance, it meant that new sections of heavy wall pipe would need to be installed at each of the two locations where the new highway will cross the mainline. This was to comply with the CSA standard requirements for pipeline location factor change as a result of the highway construction. The abandoned section of existing pipe was removed. The flow of the 3,848-kilometre Alliance system would also have to be shut down for about seven days to connect the new pipe sections.
The Alliance project team understood that regulatory compliance, effective stakeholder engagement and significant planning were critical for project success. For example, early contact was made with the National Energy Board about the preferred pre-job method to safely evacuate the natural gas in the affected 35-kilometre pipe segment. Flaring (controlled burning of the natural gas) was the NEB’s preferred option – as opposed to venting the gas to the atmosphere.
Alliance’s priority was to lower the pressure in the pipeline segment to the greatest extent possible to maximize natural gas conservation and minimize emissions and flaring time. Prior to the flaring, they successfully reduced the normal operating pressure in that segment by 41 per cent, meeting their intended objective.
Understanding that the flaring might be of interest in the local area, Alliance was quick to initiate comprehensive public outreach and engagement with landowners, municipal interests and other businesses and industry in the immediate area. Alliance wanted to ensure the awareness of local stakeholders, so it focused on one-on-one contacts and conversations and in-person presentations to councils and first responder associations.
Alliance also communicated with its customers throughout the time before and after the service outage, to enable them to prepare for the shut down and generally help mitigate gas transportation impacts.
Other notification and engagement activities included:
- Early notification to residents of Regina and surrounding areas about the construction and flaring using a variety of media, including newspaper and radio advertising in advance of the activities.
- Consulting the airport and air traffic control authorities as the flaring site was approximately seven kilometres west of the Regina International Airport. Alliance also arranged for a “Notice to Air Men” (NOTAM) during the flaring, to alert aircraft pilots about the tall flare stacks.
- In-person notifications to landowners to alert them about noise and visibility.
The Alliance team’s focus on engaging the public early and comprehensively paid dividends. No complaints were received regarding the flaring or the pipe replacement work.
In October 2016, CEPA member, Alliance Pipeline, completed the construction work required to accommodate the Regina Bypass. Final clean up and reclamation on the pipeline right-of-way occurred in spring 2017.
The consortium managing the Regina Bypass Project gave Alliance high praise for safety, leadership, early engagement and open communication.