Pipeline Companies required to revise quality assurance programs
The National Energy Board (NEB) has expanded the scope of a previous Safety Advisory and draft Order regarding the quality assurance of pipeline materials.
In February 2016, the NEB issued two Safety Advisories and an Order that required NEB-regulated companies to identify and report on purchased and installed pipeline components that contain material properties that do not meet standard associations’ requirements. Recently the NEB has become aware of additional quality issues associated with pipeline fittings.
In order to continue to ensure the safety of NEB regulated pipelines and facilities the NEB has issued an amended Safety Advisory and Order. The amended Safety Advisory will expand the scope of the previous advisory by naming additional manufacturers whose components did not meet requirements. The draft Order will require NEB-regulated companies to identify components fitting this description, confirm they are safe, and take appropriate mitigation measures.
The NEB is concerned about these manufacturing issues but stresses that there is no immediate risk to the public or the environment. No incidents have been reported on NEB-regulated pipelines that relate to the use of these materials. The NEB’s Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR) section 23 requires regulated companies to conduct pressure testing on all pipe and fittings before they can be connected to a pipeline system. In all cases fittings are pressure tested to at least 25 per cent above maximum operating pressure because they are over-designed for their intended use.
The NEB expects regulated companies to demonstrate a proactive commitment to continual improvement in safety, security and environment protection, and to promote a positive safety culture as part of their management systems. To support these expectations, the draft Order will require companies regulated by the NEB to:
- Verify components having material properties not meeting required specifications;
- Provide a timeline to conduct engineering assessments that demonstrate the safety of identified pipeline components installed in operating pipelines having material properties not meeting the required specifications;
- Provide a timeline to revise the company’s quality assurance program, as required under section 15 of the NEB Onshore Pipeline Regulations, which is aimed at preventing the installation of Pipeline components with material properties not meeting the required specifications; and,
- The company’s Accountable Officer must file a written confirmation certifying that the engineering assessments have been completed and the quality assurance program has been revised.
Canadians and regulated companies have 60 days to provide the NEB their comments on the draft Order. After reviewing the received comments and making changes where appropriate, the NEB will finalize the draft Order.
The NEB, as Canada’s national regulator, is committed to influencing improvements in the pipeline material supply chain. It has no regulatory authority over pipeline manufacturers but is looking to facilitate broad dialogue on this important quality assurance issue. In June, the NEB will host a technical workshop on addressing quality assurance issues. Participants will include academics, regulators, manufacturers, regulated companies and international experts.
The National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada’s energy industry. It regulates pipelines, energy development and trade in the public interest with safety as its primary concern. For more information on the NEB and its mandate, please visit www.neb-one.gc.ca.
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