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Pipeline SMS Culture

Pipeline SMS: Focus on Culture, then Technology

Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace. Capabilities that were inconceivable a decade ago are now a reality, while future technology continues to amaze us.

When it comes to implementing and executing a pipeline safety management system (SMS) in your operation, there is a temptation to simply throw new technology at the situation. Particularly, when trying to implement leak detection program management through API 1175, which is one of the first program RPs within pipeline SMS.

Instead of viewing technology as a method to solve the issue of optimizing leak detection, first start with building your pipeline safety culture. Then, look at how technology can enhance your safety culture.

Why Start with Culture When Implementing Pipeline SMS?

The central message about API 1175 is that this recommended practice is not a list of what you need to do to achieve compliance. Instead, API 1175 outlines how you can create an overall leak detection strategy that fits each operator’s capabilities, culture, and risk tolerance.

There is a sense of freedom to put together the management system that fits your specific operation to generate a leak detection culture and strategy.

In a recent episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, the trio of Dan Sensel, Jason Dalton, and Kyle Miller from Marathon Pipe Line shared their perspective on why culture is critical when starting to implement pipeline SMS.

“The vast majority of a good leak detection program is a good culture,” said Jason Dalton. “You need operators on the systems that understand that they need to think leak-first. They need to be able to understand what’s going on.”

The role of technology in leak detection is to provide support; the foundation needs to be built on culture. One of the key elements of building an effective safety culture is training.

“In terms of the most efficient use of your budget, training and making sure that you’ve got a good culture will far outweigh any infrastructure or technology upgrades,” added Jason.

The key for pipeline operators and control room managers is to equip your teams with the right training and resources for leak detection. Knowing how to provide the right resources starts with understanding gaps in your operation.

Perform Gap Analysis to Align with API 1175

One of the most important resources that ties in with API 1175 is a Gap Analysis to understand where there are gaps between your internal leak detection program and the industry best practices.

Consider these five steps to perform this analysis (from PipelineSMS.org):

  • Step 1 (Identify): Understand the scope of API 1175.
  • Step 2 (Plan): Analyze gaps and develop corrective actions that fit your pace.
  • Step 3 (Execute): Gain a commitment from leadership, implement and communicate the plan, and document changes to the leak detection program.
  • Step 4 (Evaluate): Use metrics to assess performance and evaluate performance against industry benchmarks.
  • Step 5 (Sustain): Maintain an ongoing review program as part of a culture of continuous improvement.

Every operator is at a different point in the journey. Additionally, every operator will take a different pace to accomplish all five steps. The key is to make progress toward closing the gaps, while ensuring that personnel are equipped with training along the way.

Consider Software to Support API 1175 Alignment

As you advance through the process of (a) building a safety culture for leak detection, (b) training your personnel, and (c) following the steps in a Gap Analysis, you should consider how software can help you manage the change.

Software, like advanced technology in the marketplace, is a support piece to help you on the journey of aligning with API 1175 within your pipeline safety management system.

To help operators achieve alignment and to continuously improve, EnerSys Corporation developed a new software tool, ComplyMgr, within our POEMS Compliance Management Software Suite.

ComplyMgr acts as a data repository for your internal documents, links to industry standards such as API 1175, and enables you to establish a framework for your safety culture.

We would like to schedule a demo of ComplyMgr with you to demonstrate how we support pipeline SMS. To schedule a brief, no-obligation demo, please complete our contact form, email us at sales@enersyscorp.com, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.

Russel Treat

Russel Treat is an industry leader, software entrepreneur, podcaster, and trusted subject matter expert specializing in oil and gas pipeline operations, custody transfer measurement, leak detection, and automation. Russel’s extensive knowledge of pipeline and control room operations gained over 30 years of projects led to the creation of a complete software suite known as POEMS ™ (Pipeline Operations Excellence Management System) delivered through EnerSys Corporation.

As CEO of EnerSys, Russel is committed to delivering the highest value to pipeline operators by addressing their greatest needs and concerns, especially operational efficiency, safety and government regulation.