Calgary pipeline conference focuses on safety and research

Pipeline safety will be a hot topic at a conference in Calgary organizers say is the largest and most recognized of its kind in the world.

About 1,200 delegates from 40 nations have converged on the city for the ninth biennial International Pipeline Conference this week to share cutting-edge research and technology development.

Held every two years, the event, which kicked off Monday and ends Friday, will not however likely discuss specific projects like the controversial Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines, said organizing committee co-chairman Ziad Saad.

“Most of the discussions in this conference are about technical advances and sharing learnings and sharing experiences so I suspect that’s going to be the focus,” he said.

Saad, vice-president safety and sustainability of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, said more than 350 technical papers will be presented and the event fe atures such key industry leaders as PetroChina Pipeline Company president Wei Yao, speaking Tuesday.

PetroChina has been a major player in Alberta’s energy sector, purchasing the remaining shares in its majority stake of Athabasa Oil Sands Corp. in a $680 million deal earlier this year.

“It’s very important to attract people from all the over the world and China is obviously a growing country that is expanding its infrastructure so it certainly fits within the mandate and goal of the conference to attract people from Asia and other areas to exchange knowledge and advance practices and enhance safety for pipelines everywhere,” Saad said.

About a third of the papers presented involve pipeline integrity and safety, which is seen as a priority.

“Certainly most recently in Canada with more focus on pipelines, there is an even further heightened awareness in the industry but that focus on safety has been there for an extended period of time,” Saad said.

Despite scrutiny of the industry by regulators over the years, he is not surprised there are not more papers touching on it.

“A third of the papers of the entire conference is quite a significant portion and I think it’s a testament to the fact that that’s always been front and centre for the industry … so it’s a very active area of research development and practice,” he said.

The conference, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel coincides with an exposition at the Telus Convention Centre.


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