Building safely has always been a high priority for construction companies, especially for Oil and Gas pipelines.
Like roads and railways, transmission pipelines, also called Energy Highways, are vital for the global economy. From the initial concept through to the in-service date, designing and building a pipeline is a lengthy process involving many discussions and decisions. In Canada, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) works to improve pipeline safety, regulatory engagement, transparency, and sustainability of the industry in Canada.
There are six practices recommended to build safe pipelines:
1. Engage with your stakeholders
Pipeline construction and operation requires access to land that may be owned, occupied and used by others. Stakeholder engagement describes how pipeline companies interact and work with these groups, along with others that could be impacted by pipeline construction and operations. Pipeline companies must meet regulatory requirements around stakeholder engagement.
Because they are potentially impacted by pipeline construction and operation, it is natural for these stakeholders to be concerned. They want information regarding pipeline projects, but often also want to have a say in the project design and operation.
Pipeline companies engage with a variety of key stakeholders from aboriginal communities, landowners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media, all levels of government, and provincial and federal regulators. Ensuring that stakeholders participate in a two-way, cooperative and constructive process protects the social license of pipeline companies to operate.
2. Be aware of community issues and concerns
Pipeline companies are committed to creating and maintaining two-way communications with all stakeholders. This two-way communication keeps stakeholders informed about the project and keeps the pipeline operator aware of community issues and concerns. It also helps to establish a working relationship and trust between the parties, which is necessary to resolve any contentious issues.
There are many ways to engage stakeholders but typically pipeline companies use four basic steps to help them design and implement their stakeholder consultation programs:
- Phase 1: Identification of stakeholders and stakeholder issues.
- Phase 2: Development of a consultation strategy, including setting out goals and objectives, and a detailed plan, including scheduling.
- Phase 3: Implementation of the plan, including tracking, integrating input from stakeholders into projects plans, and considering any conflicting input between, land, environment, and local community considerations.
- Phase 4: Reporting and evaluating on the consultation process.
3. Don’t forget environmental factors
Designing pipeline systems require consideration of a number of factors, including the distance to be traveled, the expected volumes to be received and delivered by the pipeline, and the type and range of products to flow through the pipe.
These factors determine how thick the pipe needs to be built to ensure safety and how many pumping or compression stations need to keep the energy products flowing smoothly and safely through the pipe.
In addition, pipeline designers have to take into account a number of factors when considering the route, the pipeline should take. For example:
- Are there environmentally sensitive areas nearby?
- Which communities are located nearby and what are their concerns?
- What are the seasonal variations in temperature and climate?
- Are there existing facilities nearby that could pose a public safety risk?
- To what extent does the terrain facilitate ease of construction?
4. Consult your stakeholders from pre- to post-construction
Pipeline construction is divided into three phases, each with its own activities:
- Pre-construction activities include surveying and staking, preparing the right-of-way, digging the trench and stringing the pipe, and consultation on route planning.
- Construction activities include bending and joining the pipe, coating the pipe, positioning the pipe in the trench, installing valves and fittings, backfilling the trench, and consultation on construction issues.
- Post-construction activities testing, final cleanup, and consultation to address post-construction issues.
5. Meet your regulatory requirements
Regulation of transmission pipelines falls into two basic areas — regulations that help the industry ensure the safety of communities and the environment, and the regulation of transportation charges. In addition, the industry has established or participates in a number of engineering and scientific committees that help set widely accepted technical standards for construction and operation of pipelines.
- Public and environmental safety: All aspects of the lifecycle of a pipeline are strictly regulated by a number of regulatory agencies and government departments. These regulatory agencies and government departments ensure pipelines are operated safely, responsibly and in the public interest.
- Technical standards: Effective standards are an important element to get a robust pipeline industry. In Canada, there are 11 key standards published by Canadian Standards Association (CSA), which cover the design, construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipeline systems and underground storage of petroleum products and liquefied natural gas.
6. Be smart with your data
Social and regulatory risks are inevitable. But identifying, mitigating and being pro-active with those risks can be achieved easily if you manage the right information. Good data will allow you better dialogue with your stakeholders leading to better decisions!
IsoMetrix provides the oil and gas industry with specialized solutions for the management of Governance, Risk, and Compliance. Offering a comprehensive suite of solutions across the enterprise, from Social Management through to Health, Safety, Environment, Sustainability, Risk, Compliance and Audit, IsoMetrix is the ideal GRC tool across the full lifecycle of an oil and gas project.
An integrated GRC System will allow you to:
- Manage social and environmental impacts before they affect the construction of the pipeline
- Ensure all activities are compliant with relevant local and international legislation
- Track stakeholder engagements and progress against long-term commitments
In our next post, we will detail how IsoMetrix solutions can support the pipeline industry in maintaining safe pipelines.
About the Author
Benoit Froment was appointed as Director: North America for Metrix Software Solutions in October 2015. Benoit is responsible for leading the IsoMetrix operations in the US and Canada, including Sales and Marketing, Implementation and Customer Support. He is also an IsoMetrix Subject Matter Expert in Social Sustainability.