Canada energy companies, police scramble to protect pipelines
By David Ljunggren and Nia Williams
OTTAWA/CALGARY Oct 14 (Reuters) - Canadian energy companies and officials share intelligence, scour social media and send up surveillance drones but even so they say preventing a disruption to the country's vast pipeline network is near impossible and each side wants the other to do more.
This week, five oil pipelines carrying Canadian crude were halted in the United States in an audacious act by protesters opposed to oil sands development and a proposed new pipeline in North Dakota.
The coordinated attacks in isolated locations near the Canadian border sparked a flurry of exchanges among pipeline operators, police, Canada's national energy regulator and a U.S. counterpart to assess the impact.
While they quickly consulted about the risk of the attacks spreading, the disruption focused attention on how Canada would deal with an assault on a huge network of pipelines crisscrossing a country with the world's third-largest proven oil reserves.
"Pipelines are so long and so linear, they are like a border, you cannot oversee every part of them." said Patrick Keys, TransCanada vice president of Canadian Gas Pipelines Commercial West.
Five years ago, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in leaked documents that it saw a greater risk to infrastructure from environmentalists than from religiously inspired groups, a claim that raised some eyebrows.
Richard Fadden, who ran Canada's main spy agency until 2013 and was national security advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau until June, said that in a country the size of Canada, "lowering the threat to absolute zero is impossible."
But he said there was scope for improvement, such as better use of technology and surveillance drones. Continued...