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Russell Treat Enersys Houston Texas

Year-End Letter from CEO Russel Treat: The Importance of Pipeline SMS

At the beginning of 2019, the pipeline industry was squarely focused on Pipeline Safety Management Systems (Pipeline SMS). The trend continued throughout the year with two significant developments:

– American Gas Association (AGA) issued a letter mid-way through the year strongly encouraging member organizations to adopt the Pipeline SMS guidelines outlined in API RP 1173 and implement a pipeline safety management system.

– In November, the industry received a progress report on Pipeline SMS as part of a presentation by SMS Pipeline Industry Team chair Angie Kolar at the PHMSA GPAC and LPAC committee meetings in Washington, D.C. [Read the Full Presentation]

Both developments reflect a deep and broad commitment to Pipeline SMS as the industry strives for the goal of zero incidents.

Our company has taken note. EnerSys has traditionally focused on the control room aspects of Pipeline SMS and the related API standards. In 2020, we will be updating our software and services to align our offerings with Pipeline SMS. Going forward, we plan to expand our offering to address other elements of Pipeline SMS as we strive to support our customers’ ability to achieve zero incidents.

As we advance into 2020, here are three key areas that your operation should be focusing on to support this industry-wide objective.

  • Conformance to API RP 1173
  • Reinforcing a company culture supporting Pipeline SMS
  • Evaluating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

1. Conforming to API 1173

Five years have passed since API 1173 was published outlining a Pipeline Safety Management System to help pipeline operators to operate safely.

However, there have been some hiccups along the way, such as aligning terminology across the industry, understanding how to build the optimal culture before utilizing technology, and performing gap assessments to determine how to bring operations into compliance with API 1173.

To support conformance with RP 1173, AGA stressed the importance of buy-in throughout the operation. In their letter, AGA identified three responsibilities for personnel:

  • Top management: promote safety culture and support the development of policies, programs, and procedures consistent with RP 1173 objectives.
  • Management: develop policies, programs, and procedures consistent with RP 1173 objectives, enforce those programs and procedures, receive and evaluate feedback from employees on safety initiatives, and form recommendations based on that feedback to report to top management.
  • Employees: safely execute the policies, programs, and procedures set forth by management, and remain vigilant in identifying, reporting, and remediating safety hazards in pipeline operation.

In summary, each person involved in pipeline operations plays a critical role in supporting Pipeline SMS.

2. Reinforcing the Company Culture

In her presentation during the PHMSA committee meetings, Angie Kolar stressed the importance of reinforcing company culture to support the zero incidents goal for the industry.

This objective starts with top management. If there is a lack of buy-in promoting a safety culture in your operation, there will be a lack of buy-in from managers and employees.

The message here is to stay focused on progress. If you’re not seeing results right away, don’t let up or give up. Remember that Pipeline SMS is not a destination, but a journey of enhancing pipeline safety through continual safety awareness, vigilance, and cooperation.

If your operation took steps toward building the ideal company culture in 2019, continue to reinforce the company culture in 2020. Identify your next steps, continue to gather feedback, and take more action to align with the framework of API 1173.

3. Evaluating KPIs in Pipeline SMS Adoption

Angie Kolar’s presentation provided an industry-wide progress report on Pipeline SMS adoption. The KPIs included:

  • 88%: Operators that have performed a Safety Culture Assessment.
  • 82%: Operational leadership has demonstrated a Pipeline SMS commitment.
  • 71%: Gap assessments have been completed.
  • 74%: Improvements have been identified through gap analysis.

The final metric is the proof that operators are seeking for why they should adopt Pipeline SMS. To reinforce the point, of the operators that performed a gap analysis, 74 percent reported improvement opportunities. These could be your operation in 2020.

Once you perform a gap analysis of your operation’s current practices and the framework outlined by API 1173, you should take steps to implement an effective Pipeline SMS.

AGA has outlined these suggested steps for operators:

  • Understand the components of RP 1173.
  • Map existing practices to the components.
  • Identify where current practices do not meet the standards set forth in RP 1173.
  • Engage these deficiencies in a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle.
  • Target these deficiencies for compliance with the recommended practice.

What’s Next for Pipeline Operations in 2020?

The course has been set for 2020. The industry-wide KPIs indicate that more steps need to be taken to engage every pipeline operator in supporting the goal of zero incidents.

During the PHMSA presentation, four key strategic objectives were outlined for 2020:

  • Increase industry participation (close the gap from 88% to 100%).
  • Ensure proactive external engagement (through ongoing PHMSA activity).
  • Provide ongoing support for operator journeys (culture surveys, education, and assessments).
  • Provide governance and oversight (reaffirm and reauthorize RP 1173).

What Will Be The Role of EnerSys in Pipeline SMS?

Historically, EnerSys has focused on the control room aspects of Pipeline SMS and the related API standards. During 2020, EnerSys will be aligning our products and service offerings with Pipeline SMS, doing our part to contribute to the move to zero incidents.

The course has been set for 2020. The industry-wide KPIs indicate that more steps need to be taken to engage every pipeline operator in supporting the goal of zero incidents.

After attending committee meetings in D.C. throughout 2019, I am looking forward to seeing how the industry continues to engage with the framework of Pipeline SMS to support their operation, and exploring how EnerSys can contribute.

I am personally joining with AGA in remaining committed to helping our customers adopt, implement, and improve Pipeline SMS in their operation.

This will be especially important as we look ahead to additional parts of the Mega Rule being released by PHMSA in 2020.

Remember that your operation is on its own unique journey. Thank you for trusting the EnerSys team to support you in 2019. We look forward to coming alongside you even more in 2020 to support your operation’s safety objectives.

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.