iPIPE Program helps solve pipeline leaks in ND

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BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota's Gov. Doug Burgum said he wants zero pipeline leaks, so he challenged pipeline industries and the Energy and Environmental Research Center to innovate, not regulate new technology ideas to help solve the problem.

iPIPE is a new program from phase three of a pipeline study EERC did to identify new technologies and risk assessments.

iPIPE takes those emerging technologies and tests them in the field.

This photo is from an oil spill that happened in 2016.

EERC and other pipeline companies are hoping to fix leaks like this from ever happening again.

"Let's be realistic, we've had spills in this state. So, we want to make sure as a state we have the right pipelines in place, but also we're not having pipeline leaks that can be prevented," said Energy Systems Development Director Brian Kalk.

Pipeline companies like ONEOK and Hess invested over $200,000 to be part of this industry-led three-year test period program.

"We definitely see the benefit, the long term benefit of finding cost effective and very effective from an operations perspective, types of solutions for spill and leak detections," said Danette Welsh, director of government relations for ONEOK.

iPIPE is ready to test out new technologies, like this golf ball-sized sensor to help detect problems in small gathering pipelines, which is where EERC's research has been mainly focused.

"Because of advances in technology, sensors have been able to become smaller, so now you can get senor's inside these two inch pipelines," explained Kalk.

Kalk says he hopes the iPIPE program can be a yearly thing, testing new technologies that are identified to advance the industry.

Kalk hopes EERC identifies new technologies that every pipeline company in the country can use to help detect leaks.