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Alberta leads in pipeline safety

An independent review has confirmed that Alberta leads in pipeline safety and provides the most thorough overall pipeline regulatory regime of all assessed jurisdictions. Alberta’s high regulatory standards for pipeline infrastructure guide the activities of all companies doing business in the province to ensure the health and safety of Albertans.

The report, a comprehensive third-party review conducted by Group 10 Engineering, concluded that Alberta has become a leader in establishing best practices to manage the industry appropriately. It also concluded that while all the examined jurisdictions conform to pipeline requirements established by the Canadian Standards Association, there is no “one size fits all” approach on how to best ensure pipeline safety.

“This review assures Albertans we have a safe system in place, but it’s important that we not rest on our laurels. As leaders in energy production and regulation, we will make every effort to ensure Alberta’s pipeline safety standards continue to be among the best in the world.”

- Ken Hughes, Minister of Energy

The review contained 17 recommendations intended to further improve the integrity and reliability of Alberta’s pipeline infrastructure. Most of the recommendations fall under the responsibility of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), which has already begun to address them.

“We accept the findings of the Group 10 report and we will consider this report in its entirety as we advance our regulatory mandate. We have a strong tradition of pipeline regulation in Alberta and we embrace any opportunity to further enhance the safety, performance and reliability of Alberta’s pipeline infrastructure by improving the regulatory framework.”

- Jim Ellis, CEO, Alberta Energy Regulator

In addition to acting on recommendations in the report, Hughes will also ask the AER to lead the development of a management system to ensure operators are using leading-edge information technology to respond quickly and effectively to pipeline incidents. The system will have the ability for real time tracking and tracing the history of pipeline equipment. It will mitigate risk and prevent future incidents, and will be integrated into the reporting requirements of the regulators.

Albertans will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the report and its recommendations. The feedback form is on Alberta Energy’s Pipeline Safety Review web page, along with copies of the Group 10 report and the AER’s response to it.

Our government was elected to keep building Alberta, to live within its means and to fight to open new markets for Alberta’s resources. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

Backgrounder: Pipeline review findings and recommendations

Backgrounder

Pipeline review findings and recommendations

In July 2012, Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes asked the Energy Resources Conservation Board (now the Alberta Energy Regulator) to retain an independent third party to examine the safety and integrity of the province’s pipeline system.

The review, conducted by Group 10 Engineering, included a comparison of Alberta’s pipeline regulatory requirements with those of other jurisdictions including British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the National Energy Board in Canada; Texas, Alaska and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in the United States; and the UK, the Netherlands and Australia.

Findings

  • All jurisdictions across Canada conform to pipeline requirements established by the Canadian Standards Association. 
  • Strict comparisons of regulatory jurisdictions across Canada are difficult to make since no two are directly comparable in terms of the type of pipelines they regulate.
  • There is no “one size fits all” approach on how to best ensure pipeline safety.
  • Alberta provides the most thorough overall regulatory regime of all the assessed Canadian jurisdictions.
  • All regulators have an overall consistency in competence, understanding and preparedness for an incident.

Recommendations

Public Safety and Response to Pipeline Incidents

  1. Develop a stakeholder education and awareness program targeted at right of way encroachment and reaction to emergencies.
  2. Extend Alberta’s mandatory “Call Before You Dig” program across Canada.
  3. Increase AER participation in stakeholder emergency response exercises.

Pipeline Integrity Management

  1. Create a standardized pipeline risk ranking in Canada.
  2. Routine Audit Integrity Management Programs for all companies. 
  3. Create requirements for inspection/testing in high risk areas.
  4. Create personnel certification programs in pipeline safety.
  5. Use performance based regulation.
  6. Review staffing levels associated with pipeline safety.
  7. Set clear goals to manage pipeline failure rates to as low as reasonably practicable.
  8. Define record retention for takeovers, mergers and sales.
  9. Harmonize with other regulators.
  10. Educate industry and public on pipeline set-backs.

Safety of Pipelines near Water Bodies

  1. Confirm definition of what constitutes a water body and clearly define expectations for design, inspection, mitigation and monitoring at water bodies.
  2. Require map inventories of water crossings to a 1:50 000 map scale.
  3. Require a process to mitigate risks at high consequence areas.
  4. Define depth of cover requirements at all critical and high-risk water crossings.

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