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Updated: 6th January 2019 08:15

Minister’s Calgary visit highlights pipeline innovation

Joe Oliver, the federal minister of natural resources, was in Calgary to hand out funding towards sustainable technology — like pipeline monitoring and inspection.

Joe Oliver, the federal minister of natural resources, was in Calgary to hand out funding towards sustainable technology — like pipeline monitoring and inspection.

He says pipelines are grabbing more than Ottawa's attention.

"Pipelines are grabbing the headlines and generating a great deal of interest across North America," said Oliver at the Wednesday event.

"Pipelines are the cornerstone of the oil and gas sector that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in economic activity."

The increasing focus on pipeline safety is paying off for one Calgary company.

Pure Technologies says its "smartball" technology is turning into a big seller.

Detecting leaks becoming more important

"Many more orders and lots more enquiries," said Jamie Paulson, chairman of Pure Technologies. "We started first marketing our smartball oil and gas technology to the oil and gas sector five years ago but found a slow up take, which has changed in the past year or two."

It appears to have taken off just as pipeline leaks, including a big one for Enbridge in the summer of 2010, hit the headlines.           

The shiny red balls range from the size a baseball to an extra large bowling ball. They roll through a pipe constantly checking for even small changes in pressure indicating a leak.

Pure Technologies says its smartball technology that monitors pipelines for leaks is turning into a big seller. (Submitted by Pure Technologies)

Paulson believes oil companies in the past two years have seen the importance of detecting small leaks before they turn into big problems.

Pure Technologies did receive $1 million in technology funding on Wednesday, but it will be put towards its inspection and condition assessment tool called extra high-resolution magnetic flux leakage (XHR-MFL) – a wastewater and water pipeline innovation.

It was part of a federal Sustainable Development Technology of Canada investment of $22 million to help eight new clean technology projects from across the country reach commercialization.

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