3 ways pipeline companies collaborate on emergency response

Incidents on Canada’s pipeline systems are extremely rare. But no industry is completely risk-free; that’s why pipeline companies are prepared for quick and effective emergency response in the unlikely event an incident does occur.

May 5 to 11, 2019 is Emergency Preparedness Week, a national awareness initiative taking place annually since 1996. It aims to focus Canadians on becoming better prepared to face a range of emergencies. Today we look at the ways pipeline companies collaborate with each other to prevent, prepare for or respond to emergencies.


A target of zero incidents


A 2015 study by the Fraser Institute concluded that pipelines are, without a doubt, the safest way to transport oil and gas. That study focused on the number of occurrences or accidents per million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) transported. The industry wants to make pipelines even safer than the current safety record of 99.999 per cent – Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) members have a target of zero incidents.


Three collaboration initiatives for best-in-class emergency preparedness


Canadian regulators require all pipeline companies operating in Canada to have detailed emergency response plans (ERPs). These comprehensive plans outline all the necessary steps and decisions required to manage a pipeline emergency. In their quest for zero incidents, pipeline companies cooperate and collaborate at levels that are rare in the business world. Here are three examples of how they work together.

  1. CEPA Integrity First® –

    Through CEPA Integrity First, industry leaders and experts work together to improve practices and challenge each other to continuously better their performance. This collaborative approach allows member companies to share knowledge and innovations with each other, so they can drive industry-wide improvements across 10 Integrity First priorities including, emergency management. Modelled with input from some of the most recognized industry performance measurement programs, including the chemical industry’s Responsible Care®, evidence shows Integrity First is making a difference.

  2. Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement –

    We often hear leaders in the pipeline industry say, “One company’s incident is everyone’s incident.” That’s the spirit behind the Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement (MEAA). This pact calls on member companies to pool resources and help each if there’s a major incident. Any member managing a major incident can activate the MEAA if they need additional resources or when their internal responders begin to tire. In addition to having access to a larger inventory of resources, including personnel, member companies also attend each other’s emergency response exercises, train together and share learnings.

  3. Joint Emergency Management Exercises –

    CEPA members participate in hundreds of emergency response exercises every year. Additionally, to test the MEAA, members have collaborated twice in recent years in holding the CEPA  Joint Emergency Management Exercise (JEME) to practice coordinating a unified response. Collaborations such as these ensure every member is prepared to deal with any emergency on their own systems. The JEME allows members to not only practice executing the JEME but also share knowledge on responding to emergencies.  CEPA members also use the standardized Incident Command System (ICS) for large emergencies, which is another tool to ensure they have a common approach to emergency response.

The thoroughness and dedication with which pipeline companies prepare for emergencies leave little to chance. CEPA members know even one small incident can have a ripple effect on the entire industry, with impacts to people and the environment. Incidents also erode trust from communities, shareholders, regulators and other constituents. That’s why CEPA members are equally focused on preventing emergencies from ever occurring.

Learn more about how pipeline companies prepare for emergencies: