PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott talked to Russel Treat on the Pipeliners Podcast

PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott Talks to Russel Treat on Pipeliners Podcast

The Pipeliners Podcast is rapidly becoming recognized as an industry-leading source of education, knowledge transfer, and information.

We arrived at a landmark moment for the podcast this week. Today, May 5th, 2020, we released a one-on-one conversation with PHMSA Administrator Howard “Skip” Elliott.

The Conversation with Skip Elliott

As the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Mr. Elliott plays a significant role in our country by supporting pipeline safety, specifically the safe transportation of natural gas and hazardous liquids by pipeline.

The new podcast episode with Mr. Elliott dives into his role as a Presidental-appointee overseeing pipeline safety at the federal level.

Importantly, we discuss Mr. Elliott’s mission as PHMSA Administrator to support the pipeline industry safety goal of reaching the industry goal of zero incidents. This includes implementation of Pipeline Safety Management Systems (Pipeline SMS) and culture change in pipeline operations.

“I do think that the next-step change in safety — the thing that’s going to get us to my ultimate goal, which is zero incidents — is going to be through changes of culture through safety management systems,” Mr. Elliott said on the podcast.

“Some of the most interesting conversations that I have today with my colleagues in the oil and gas pipeline industry is to hear their commitment to safety management systems. I think as an industry, they really understand the value, and we’re right with them on that.”

“Regulations will always play a part. We will always have regulations that we feel are necessary. Congress will always tell us that there are regulations that we need to move through. I will tell you that, ultimately, it’s going to be through the potential change that we can make through safety management systems on the culture that’s going to get us that last bit of safety.”

Other Talking Points in the Conversation With Skip Elliott

In addition to pipeline safety, Mr. Elliott discussed the circle of how technology, standards, and rulemaking interact in the pipeline industry.

The conversation focused on how to ensure alignment between all three elements, especially as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace.

“From a regulatory point of view, if we do what we need to do and that’s to recognize technology and the standards that a lot of the trade associations that focus on standards come up with, our job is to basically make sure that we keep up with those standards and we formalize them where we need to formalize them,” Mr. Elliott said. “We recognize them in regulations that these standards are what we want the industry to follow.”

I also had the opportunity to unpack advanced pipeline safety testing programs that are planned for the Transportation Technology Center.

Mr. Elliott outlined key pieces of a long-term plan to use the existing facility to build out pipeline-specific testing sites. This way, pipeline stakeholders can test new tools before they hit the market and the industry can continue to advance pipeline safety efforts in simulated testing environments.

Listen to and Share This Pipeliners Podcast Episode

I encourage you to listen to this incredibly informative and relevant episode for pipeliners. It was a privilege to host this conversation with Skip Elliott, who was candid, informative, and insightful throughout the discussion.

Also, share this episode with colleagues, employees, and other pipeline professionals that have a vested interest in pipeline safety and the overall standing of the pipeline industry.

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