Pipeline Safety First, Second and Third

Natural Gas Storage and Infrastructure
August 12, 2013
George Mitchell – A Tribute to an Industry Visionary
September 12, 2013

Pipeline Safety First, Second and Third


Safe Environment, Employees and Community

Safety must come first, and second, and third, said Jeroen van de Veer, former Royal Dutch Shell CEO at the KPMB Global Energy Conference in Houston last May.

Safety is a critical role for energy companies and not just because they are being watched closely. We have a big responsibility to the environment, and the safety of employees and community members. It is the responsibility of each company to not only comply to regulations, but to do our part to go above and beyond.

The annual Ernst & Young annual survey just came out and identifies health safety, and environment (HSE) as what energy executives call a top risk. As a side note, a new item was added to the list based on survey responses and that was the threat of cyber attacks, and the need to beef up security on technology.

Back to health, safety, and environment: In 2011, HSE was ranked five out of ten risk factors. It topped the list in 2013 and is forecasted to top the list again in the next survey in 2015.

Accident Prevention

If an accident occurs anywhere in the world, the spotlight is shone everywhere; not just at the site of the accident. When we see something occur in another part of the world, we automatically look to our own backyard to see if it could happen to us. These events cause further scrutiny and examination to identify measures that prevent accidents. For this reason, the industry as a whole strives for a zero tolerance of accidents.

Accidents can cost lives, livelihoods and communities their quality of life. Negligence on company’s parts will induce heavy fines and often irreparably damaged reputations.

At Snelson, risk mitigation is always top on the agenda. Our internal compliance team is vigilant when it comes to reviewing ever-changing regulations (they vary geographically, as well.)

Keeping Safety a Priority

According to van de Veer, energy companies, as a whole, must do the following to keep safety first:

  • Provide clear and direct communication to employees
  • Address safety and public perception before a project moves forward
  • Partner safety with risk management leading to a more proactive approach

As natural gas demand increases, so too will the need for natural gas pipeline to get the gas to the point of consumption. Pipeline is one of the safest modes of transportation according to Department of Transportation (DOT) because it is buried underground.

Nevertheless, further precautions are taken. We talked about the Pipe Pig earlier and here we’ll cover additional components to a solid safety and prevention program.

  • Call before you dig. The biggest threat to safety according to NaturalGas.org, is unauthorized construction projects. Planes monitor the pipeline network to ensure projects aren’t encroaching on the pipeline.
  • Monitor the surface for leaks.
  • Install pipeline markers on the surface to indicate the presence of natural gas pipeline.
  • Regularly test the gas for quality and look for signs of pipeline corrosion or other contaminants.
  • Routinely test valves.
  • Have an emergency response team ready to deploy in the event of or the potential of an accident.

Environmental Safety and Health is Snelson’s core business value. These high standards for safety have led not only to pipeline safety awards, but also best in class projects, produced by a high morale work force excelling in a safe, healthy and productive working environment.