INGAA outlines pipeline safety action plan

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, July 20 -- The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America outlined a detailed action plan to achieve pipeline safety goals, including a commitment to expand pipeline integrity management principles to all onshore gas transmission systems belonging to its members.

“The overarching goal is zero incidents,” said Don Santa, INGAA president and chief executive officer. INGAA’s pipeline safety principles stemmed from a board-level pipeline safety taskforce. INGAA represents 66% of US natural gas transmission pipelines and 85% of interstate pipelines.

In December 2010, INGAA’s board established a pipeline safety taskforce. In April, US Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood issued a national call to emphasize pipeline safety. This month, INGAA members accepted an action plan to fulfill safety principles that the group formally adopted in March.

The 9-point action plan begins with a call to expand risk management beyond the high consequence areas (HCAs). Integrity management principles currently are required only for 6% of gas pipelines operated by INGAA members in highly populated areas. INGAA wants to expand that to 70% by 2020 and 100% by 2030. The integrity management principles come from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Noting that such an expansion requires new technologies, INGAA said it’s working with the research community to develop new inspection tools and other technology that can better monitor difficult-to-assess pipelines. INGAA also wants consensus standards groups to adopt standardized processes for new technologies.

The action plan also calls for the following:

• Corrosion anomaly management for all anomalies found during inspection, both inside and outside of HCAs.

• Demonstrate fitness for service on preregulation pipelines. INGAA members commit to a systematic validation of records and maximum allowable operating pressures for pipelines in highly populated areas that predate federal regulation. The process will address National Transportation Safety Board recommendations issued after a Sept. 9, 2010, gas pipeline rupture and explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people.

• Enhance pipeline isolation and response efforts, including setting a response time goal of 1 hr from incident recognition to the start of valve-closure procedures in highly populated areas. This includes remote-control valves and manual valves. These plans are to be developed and implemented on 70% of HCA pipeline segments within 7 years and the rest of the HCA segments within 10 years.

• Improve integrity management communication, data collection, and analysis, converting it into useful industry information.

• Implement recommended practices from the Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance.

• Evaluate, refine, and improve threat assessment and mitigation by completing a comprehensive review of standards and conducting in-depth reviews of significant threats and root-cause analysis of incidents.

• Implement management systems across INGAA members to improve pipeline integrity and system reliability.

• Inform and engage stakeholders, including emergency responders, public officials, consumer and safety advocates, and people living near pipelines.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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