The INGAA Foundation held its 2012 Spring Meeting in San Antonio, TX April 11-13, with the largest attendance yet on record for the event at 273 attendees. The meeting featured updates on regulatory and safety matters, a keynote speech from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the annual Planning and Studies meeting, which allows members to vote on which proposals should be considered for the foundation’s agenda in the next year.
Foundation Chairwoman Laurie Markoe, CEO of Contract Land Staff, opened the conference with enthusiasm for the upcoming schedule and a confirmation of the organization’s core commitment to safety. Before any other business started, the meeting listened to Brad MacLean of Willbros present a safety update focusing on heavy equipment rollover protection.
With safety highlighted, Markoe summarized the foundation’s work, including the completion or upcoming completion of several foundation projects and a new website for INGAA. She lauded members’ contributions over the course of a year that saw passage of an updated pipeline safety bill in a divided Congress and encouraged them to visit INGAA’s members-only Lessons Learned repository accessible at the new website http://www.ingaa.org/Foundation/18001.aspx).
“There’s going to be a lot of opportunity to utilize this information in helping us to establish safety solutions and best practices and encouraging communication and learning from one another,” she said.
Markoe also thanked members for their efforts and reminded them that their involvement was vital to achieving the foundation’s aims.
“We need to continue to maintain our focus on all aspects of our industry, not only safety but environmental and regulatory issues too. The foundation wants to be sure that we are providing the data analysis and studies that INGAA needs to accomplish their goals as part of their advocacy to be heard when energy policy and environmental and safety regulations are being established.”
INGAA Chairman Greg Ebel, CEO of Spectra Energy, discussed some specific policy initiatives under way, including a March 27 meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
“It was a bit of a love-in with us all slapping each other on the back early on, and then after that a very honest and open discussion about what else we can do together. There are some good ideas on that front.” Ebel asked the audience to contribute ideas to send to the regulatory body, and a letter was sent to PHMSA on the topic on April 27.
“We want to raise the level of natural gas literacy in the country and educate everybody on the enormous value of a pipeline infrastructure system,” Ebel explained.
“This is a great time to be in this industry. The natural gas industry really is in a golden age right now and I think there’s more to come. We’ve got a great story to tell, it’s credible, it’s got an unbelievably compelling fact set and I think we’ve been quite successful in the last 12 months in engaging federal and state-level officials and making sure that they understand what really is a tremendous opportunity” afforded by domestic shale discoveries and natural gas in general,” he said.
Following presentations included a panel on “Domestic Energy Production, Trends & Midstream Pipeline Projects” featuring experts from academic, legal, industry and consulting backgrounds; “A Practical Approach to Managing Knowledge Risk” from consultant Brad Kamph and “The Politics of Energy Policy and Infrastructure Development,” the keynote speech by Giuliani, which focused on the political and regulatory environment.
At the planning and studies meeting, 19 new proposals for studies or initiatives were considered. The ideas that received the best scores from the assembled membership were “Practical Implementation of a Construction QMS” and “Criteria and Framework for an INGAA Foundation ‘Construction Contractor Safety Award.’”
The second day of the meeting yielded a much-anticipated report, “The Role of ‘Pipeline Age’ in Pipeline Safety,” by John Kiefner of Kiefner and Associates, as well as an update on projected activity in Washington, DC from INGAA’s Communications Director Cathy Landry and a report on PHMSA initiatives from the agency’s Jeff Wiese.
Rich Hoffmann, INGAA Foundation Executive Director, delivered information on “Hot Regulatory Topics” and Sandi Snodgrass of Holland & Hart LLP updated attendees on recent legal developments that may impact pipeline construction. Curtis Pedersen of TransCanada presented “Capital Decisions in the Face of Environmental Pressures.
Wrapping up the meeting, Markoe and several other speakers made a point to thank 2011 Foundation Chairman Dan Martin, whose El Paso Corporation has been acquired by Kinder Morgan, for his dedication and hard work in service of INGAA.
Markoe complimented the members and staff on their productivity. “We’ve just had a tremendous meeting the last few days. I’ve been so impressed with the participation and a strong, relevant agenda, and I’ve heard so many comments on the quality of this meeting.”
With business adjourned until the Aug. 9 Planning and Strategy meeting, much of the membership took further discussion to the golf course. The foundation’s annual meeting will be held Nov. 1-3 at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL.