Victoria Plotkin Pipeline Safety: Top of Mind for AGA

On January 19-20 AGA held a Transmission Integrity Management Workshop in Las Vegas.  AGA was extremely pleased with the strong participation with more than 100 members attended, representing natural gas operators across the country and industry’s leading technical experts.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in the process of investigating the San Bruno incident and recently released a list of recommendations.  Shortly thereafter, the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released an advisory to highlight additional transmission integrity issues for operators to consider.  AGA’s workshop reviewed the NTSB’s recommendations and PHMSA’s advisory, providing operators with an opportunity to discuss the next best steps.  In the coming months, the NTSB and the 112th Congress will no doubt discuss the technical issues raised at this timely workshop.

Attendees were actively engaged in the discussion throughout the workshop.  Pipeline operators discussed challenges that they are experiencing in completing integrity assessments on their remaining pipelines prior to the December 17, 2012 deadline.  Operators and industry experts discussed addressing both static and time-dependent threats under their transmission integrity management programs.  A wide variety of technologies are emerging to allow operators to better understand their pipeline system.  This workshop included presentations on a variety of technologies that addressed challenging situations such as unpiggable pipeline segments and cased pipeline segments.  Now that operators have garnered greater experience applying External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA), we are in the position to identify leading practices when using this assessment methodology.  A presentation was provided by an industry expert who has been involved with ECDA since its inception, noting circumstances in which this method can be applied successfully.

Many Congressional representatives and regulatory representatives have broached the topic of in-line-inspection.  A panel of service providers who work with in-line-inspection tools provided detailed information regarding the threats that can be addressed and the tools’ potential limitations.  It is important that all stakeholders have an understanding regarding the tools’ capabilities and limitations, as a similar panel will be held at the AGA Operations Conference in Nashville, TN the week of May 22, 2011.

AGA is greatly appreciative to all of the members and industry experts who attended this workshop and looks forward to continued work to ensure best practices in industry safety.

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