How are pipeline companies earning Canadians’ trust?

The facts show pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport energy. But pipeline companies must have the trust of Canadians if they want to maintain the social license they need to operate. The question is: how does an industry prove it is trustworthy? At CEPA, we think being a trustworthy industry is like being a trustworthy person.

Being trustworthy means you do the right thing even when nobody tells you to. It means you tell the truth, you are accountable and you think of others when making decisions. Trust is something you work continuously to earn. Above all, trust is something you prove through your actions.

For CEPA and our members, enhancing our credibility and reputation with Canadians depends on our ability to continuously improve and proactively engage with the public and our stakeholders.

And CEPA Integrity First® is how we plan to accomplish this. It’s a program that enables pipeline companies to work together to do the things that make our industry trustworthy – focusing on safety and being transparent and responsible.

Taking action to improve performance

In 2012, CEPA launched the program to offer a sustainable approach to continuously improve performance in the areas of safety, the environment and socio-economic issues.

“CEPA Integrity First is a member-driven, collaborative program,” said Coral Lukaniuk, director, Integrity First. “It’s the industry’s way of working collectively to develop and apply strict standards and systems in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining pipelines. Members hold each other accountable to ensure we are meeting and exceeding the expectations Canadians have for our industry.”

The program includes guidance documents that outline best practices and requirements for pipeline integrity and emergency management, which transmission pipeline companies worked together to create. Member companies will use the guidance documents to evaluate their current systems and identify areas for improvement.

“We’re serious about CEPA Integrity First and what it stands for. The guidance documents represent only one component of a very robust program,” said Brenda Kenny, president and CEO of CEPA. “Our members have all signed and committed to the Integrity First Policy Statement and Principles and by doing so have resolved to hold each other accountable to drive toward their goal of zero incidents, improved stakeholder engagement and increased transparency around industry performance.”

Doing the right thing

A fundamental part of the CEPA Integrity First initiative is performance tracking. CEPA members are in the process of establishing benchmarks to help track and then report transparently to the public on the industry’s performance.

“We weren’t asked to create this program by any regulatory body,” explained Lukaniuk. “Creating a program to improve performance and increase transparency is something CEPA wanted to champion and is something our member companies want to be involved in.”

There is no competition when it comes to safety

Privately-run companies operate pipelines in Canada. This system makes our pipelines some of the safest in the world thanks to competitive innovation and strong regulation. However, when it comes to pipeline safety, CEPA’s member companies decided it is in the best interest of all Canadians if they work together through CEPA Integrity First to share knowledge.

“There is no competition when it comes to safety. It’s that simple,” said Jim Donihee, CEPA’s chief operating officer.

Engaging with stakeholders

Listening to others and taking their feedback to heart is a key part of building trust, which is why engaging stakeholders is an important part of the Integrity First program. An external advisory panel made up of representatives of Aboriginal communities, environmental groups, academia, media and landowner groups is expected to meet in the next few months and will help determine priorities for the program.

We want to hear your thoughts on how the industry can earn the trust of Canadians. Comment below or join the conversation @aboutpipelines on Twitter or on Facebook.

Read more about CEPA Integrity First:

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2012, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.