AOPL Board Adopts Pipeline Safety Principles

August 2012, Vol. 239 No. 8

Operators of U.S. liquid pipelines last month reaffirmed their commitment to safety through adoption of eight pipeline safety principles by the Board of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL), the national trade association for operators of oil, natural gas liquid and carbon dioxide pipelines.

AOPL Board Chairman Todd Denton, President of Phillips 66 Pipeline LLC, said, “Our nation’s energy liquid pipeline operators demonstrate they are serious about safety by valuing these safety principles. Making these principles part of our culture is how we act safely every day to protect the public and our employees.” 

The eight liquid pipeline safety principles are:
* Zero Incidents
* Organization-Wide Commitment
* A Culture of Safety
* Continuous Improvement
* Learn from Experience
* Systems for Success
* Employ Technology
* Communicate with Stakeholders

“Pipelines are the safest way, much safer than rail or trucks, to transport the fuel our drivers need and the energy raw materials fueling new job growth across the nation. Nevertheless, pipeline operators recognize that safe pipelines can become even safer. These eight principles represent the common values pipeline operators hold to improve safety,” Denton said.

AOPL President and CEO Andy Black said, “Liquid pipeline operators have a long history of working together to improve pipeline safety. Formally adopting these pipeline safety principles recognizes their dedication to improving safety even more in the future.

Members of AOPL and the American Petroleum Institute (API) met at their 2012 AOPL-API Summer Leadership Meeting to review the progress by teams of executive leaders and operational personnel created to focus on specific pipeline safety improvement areas, the Performance Excellence Team, and safety data from the Pipeline Performance Tracking System. Pipeline operator leadership recognizes the value of their personal involvement in safety, emphasize safety, and take a personal role in the development of sector-wide safety improvement efforts.

The API Pipeline Safety Principles adopted June 24, 2012:

Zero Incidents – Only with a goal of zero safety incidents can we minimize accidents. Pipeline operators believe that every incident is preventable and work to that high standard.

Organization-Wide Commitment – Not only do senior leaders of pipeline companies value safety, but safety is emphasized at every level of the organization from employees who accept personal responsibility for safety to front-line managers who are vital to reinforcing a safety culture and implementing continuous improvement.

A Culture of Safety – Pipeline operators embrace the need to provide a workplace culture where safety is an enduring value that all employees share, act upon, learn from, are rewarded for and judged upon.

Continuous Improvement – Pipeline operators believe that no matter how safe they already are, they can always improve safety.  Vision, commitment, culture, and systems are necessary to improve safety continuously.

Learn from Experience – Pipeline operators learn how they can improve safety from their own experiences, and by sharing lessons learned industry-wide with other pipeline operators.

Systems for Success – Management systems demonstrate that safety efforts are succeeding by measuring performance, tracking changes and confirming improvements.

Employ Technology – Energy liquid pipeline operators are proud of their industry-leading technology.  From in-line inspections with diagnostic robots traveling inside pipelines called “smart pigs” to innovative ways to interpret integrity data, operators constantly research and develop new ways to maximize safety.

Communicate with Stakeholders – Operators know communicating with the public and stakeholders who value safety, from advocates to the government, is vital to improving safety.
In another move, the liquid pipeline operators have agreed to a major new pipeline safety research and development initiative. The first phase of the project, to be conducted by Pipeline Research Council International, Inc., (PRCI), has received $1 million in funding from PRCI members, including members of the AOPL.

“Although pipelines continue to be the safest mode of transportation, industry is constantly working to achieve our goal of zero incidents. This goal cannot be met without research and development delivering the next generation of solutions,” Black said.

PRCI will use the $1 million investment from pipeline operators to improve pipeline inspection technology used to determine the health and integrity of pipelines. Pipeline operators make extensive use of diagnostic tools, known as “smart pigs,” that travel inside their pipelines looking for early signs of denting, corrosion, cracking, and other concerns. Based on inspection results, operators aim to make repairs to the pipeline before the identified condition develops into a more serious problem.

Operators are always searching for improved ways to pick up early warning signs from the raw data obtained from their inspection tools. This project should improve the ability of inspection tools to gather certain information from pipelines, and enhance techniques for pipeline operators to interpreting the information the tools collect. This project was conceived during discussions between an AOPL-American Petroleum Institute Leadership Team on research, development, and enhanced technology, PRCI, and the natural gas pipeline industry.

Tim Felt, President of Colonial Pipeline, and the team’s Executive Liaison, said:
“Liquid pipeline operators recognized an opportunity to improve pipeline safety technologies and stepped up with leadership and resources. This project is an example of the AOPL-API commitment to pipeline safety.”