Pipeline safety: Why compliance isn’t enough

CEPA's Brenda Kenny at Rosen Energy and Innovation Forum

CEPA’s president and CEO, Brenda Kenny, speaks at the ROSEN Energy and Innovation Forum in Germany. (Photo credit: ROSEN Group)

Brenda Kenny, CEPA’s former president and CEO, was in Lingen, Germany, at the beginning of June to talk to members of the international pipeline industry about what Canadian pipeline companies are doing to improve safety.

During a presentation at the ROSEN Energy and Innovation Forum, Kenny emphasized that complying with pipeline regulations is not enough if pipeline operators want to earn the trust of the public. Companies need to go beyond compliance.

“People expect the pipeline industry to behave ethically and to be honest,” said Kenny after the presentation. “They expect companies to lessen environmental impacts and operate safely. And they expect the industry to listen and respond to concerns and to communicate about what they are doing to improve performance.”

Innovation and safety culture key to improving pipeline performance

How can the pipeline industry improve performance? It must use innovative technology and management systems to continuously improve the way pipelines are designed, built and operated.

However, Kenny explained that in order to reach the pipeline industry’s goal of zero incidents, it cannot rely on innovation alone.

“We have discovered in Canada that safety requires a much higher level of cooperation and particular attention to safety culture across the industry,” Kenny said. “This requires a great deal of leadership within companies and between companies.”

CEPA's Brenda Kenny at Rosen Energy and Innovation Forum

Kenny takes part in a panel discussion at the ROSEN Energy and Innovation Forum. (Photo credit: ROSEN Group)

Kenny pointed to the CEPA Integrity First® program as a way the Canadian pipeline industry is building an industry-wide safety culture that is committed to seeking success, not just avoiding failure. (Read about how the CEPA Integrity First program works here.)

Social acceptance matters

Kenny advised the international audience to listen to the public when establishing priorities for pipeline safety.

“Social acceptance matters, and it must be integrated into how each and every one of us in the industry thinks about the job at hand,” Kenny said.

In Canada, the pipeline industry is consulting stakeholders through the CEPA Integrity First program. For example, an external advisory panel – made up of representatives from Aboriginal communities, environmental groups, academia, media and landowner groups ­– will work with the program’s board of directors to determine priorities for the industry. This panel will help Canada’s pipeline companies understand and address concerns about safety, the environment and socio-economic issues.

Canada, a leader in pipeline responsibility

Canada’s pipelines are among the safest in the world. This is due, in part, to a commitment by pipeline companies to go beyond compliance and continuously improve their performance. By maintaining this commitment, and through ongoing communication and engagement with the public, we believe Canada has the opportunity to lead the world in responsible energy transportation at a time when global energy demands are growing.

Learn more about how the Canadian pipeline industry is taking a proactive approach to safety:

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.