The Best Way to Avoid a Leak Disaster

Oil Refinery Engineers

It’s no secret that when you have a leak, it’s critical for your people’s safety, your productivity and your bottom line to get it repaired quickly, without a shutdown. Hopefully you have service and support nearby that can come up with a creative solution and get it in place, safe and fast!

That’s the sort of crew Mike Henderson heads up. As Innovator’s Operations Manager for Stoney Creek, he is one of the go-to guys for the nearby Suncor Petro-Canada refinery site, and he’s always ready when they need assistance. “We’re in there almost on a weekly basis, mostly doing online leak repair,” he says.

This is particularly true right now. “Over the cold winter months, online leak repair is especially important as it maintains productivity and prevents some safety concerns such as large ice formations overhead in areas where plant employees frequent,” Henderson explains. “Repairing those leaks can keep them safe while they perform their day to day tasks.”

Sometimes these leak repairs are straightforward, while other times they require a much more complex solution — which is exactly what the Innovator crew recently experienced.

A creative solution

During a routine preventative maintenance inspection, Suncor inspectors discovered that the outer wall of a 6-inch long radius elbow was thinning. They knew that if it wasn’t repaired quickly, a dangerous leak could develop.

“We were tasked to design and install a category-H enclosure which would safely allow operation until the plant turn-around in fall 2015,” Henderson says.

This repair required extra creativity from the Innovator crew. “On this particular repair, we had to design the enclosure with additional safety factors in place,” he explains. “It had to be designed to prevent separation of the components if it should fail. Also, due to the thin wall of the outer elbow radius, we couldn’t inject sealant into the enclosure cavity, which is typically the preferred method and could’ve potentially collapsed the elbow.”

With these factors in mind, they came up with a safe and unique solution. “We circumvented this by designing a double perimeter seal on the enclosure and that allows us to stop the leak without injecting sealant into the cavity,” Henderson says.

Being proactive pays off

This fix couldn’t have come soon enough.

“When we arrived at site to install this enclosure, the technicians observed that a pinhole leak had presented itself just prior to installation,” he continues. “The timing for this installation was critical, because we were able to get the enclosure on before that leak got worse.”

In this case, being proactive paid off. “This reinforces the benefit of completing routine inspections at that site and having a contractor like Innovator who can quickly respond with a solution,” Henderson says.

Investing in our customers

Thankfully, the Innovator crew and Suncor-Petro Canada people have a solid working relationship, built on good communication, trust and mutual respect.  Working on a close and regular basis is often what makes situations like these success stories — and not emergencies.

“We’ve developed a really good rapport with a lot of the site employees over the years, and they trust us to go in there and provide them with solutions,” Henderson says. “We have excellent working relationships with all levels — planning, operations, and engineering — we collaborate and get them the results they are wanting to achieve-there is a mutual trust and respect.”

This is why Innovator is a ‘go-to’ company for the Suncor Petro-Canada refinery, and for so many of our other clients. For specialty maintenance services, you can’t beat this level of expertise and commitment.

Innovator Industrial Services can bring expertise, cutting-edge technology, and creative solutions to your company. Learn how — contact us by email at, by phone at (855) 436-4666, or on our website.