Pipeline abandonment refers to permanently taking a pipeline out of service. Depending on a number of factors, sections of pipeline may be removed or abandoned in place as short or long segments. After pipeline abandonment, frost heave has the potential to cause pipeline exposure. The rate and importance of this mechanism is thought to depend on frost depth, soil type and available moisture. No information appears to be available in the literature pertaining to this geohazard and its ability to expose a pipeline once abandoned. Stantec was commissioned by the PTAC Pipeline Abandonment Research Steering Committee (PARSC) to better understand frost heave and its potential for causing exposure of abandoned pipe segments, particularly in southern Canadian croplands traversed by transmission pipelines. This study is a first step in bridging this knowledge gap.

Pipeline Abandonment Research Steering Committee Background
The Canadian Energy Pipelines Association (CEPA), the National Energy Board (NEB), the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers have collaborated on technical and environmental issues associated with pipeline abandonment. In 1996, these four organizations published a review document titled “Pipeline Abandonment – A Discussion Paper on Technical and Environmental Issues”. In 2007, CEPA published a report titled “Pipeline Abandonment Assumptions” which discussed technical and environmental considerations for development of pipeline abandonment strategies. A comprehensive review was undertaken by theNEB as part of the Land Matters Consultation Initiative (LMCI) which involved four discussion papers on the different topic areas, 45 meetings and workshops in 25 communities across Canada, and written submissions from 13 parties. The final LMCI report, published in 2009 recommended that knowledge gaps on the physical issues of pipeline abandonment be addressed. Thus, DNV was commissioned to conduct a literature review regarding the current understanding worldwide with respect to the physical and technical issues associated with onshore pipeline abandonment and use the results of the literature review to critically analyze and identify gaps in current knowledge, and make recommendations as to potential future research projects that could help to fill those gaps.DNV published this Scoping Study in November 2010.

CEPA and PTAC have established the Pipeline Abandonment Research Steering Committee (PARSC) as a framework for collaboration to guide and direct innovation and applied research, technology development, demonstration, and deployment in order to address knowledge gaps summarized in the DNV Scoping Study. Research findings from the PARSC projects will be shared on a broad scale throughout the pipeline industry, the oil and gas industry, as well as with regulators, government agencies, and other stakeholders.