The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently published a "Guideline for Strengthening Pipeline Safety Through Rigorous Program Evaluation and Meaningful Metrics," a standard to improve pipeline monitoring. PHMSA requires that pipeline operators evaluate their own integrity management processes to guarantee high quality.
The new guideline updates a 2012 rule and specifies the aspects operators should address when they're developing and implementing those processes. Meaningful metrics serve to evaluate not only pipeline quality but also the performance of the operators themselves. PHMSA issued the updated guidelines in part at the urging of the National Transportation Safety Board, which recommended a new set of standards after its investigation of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that resulted in eight fatalities.
The Guideline is for pipelines carrying both hazardous liquids and natural gas, and gives details on establishing safety performance goals, identifying required meaningful metrics and selecting additional ones, and collecting data for program evaluation. As this blog reported last month, many of America's pipelines are several decades old, and 135 people have died in the last decade in explosions and other pipeline failures.
The issue of natural gas and oil transportation is a hot topic these days because of the industry's changing landscape. Hydraulic fracturing is tapping into new gas sources, and the extraction of Bakken oil, which is more volatile than other types, is on the rise in states like Montana and North Dakota, leading many to call for the construction of more pipelines rather than transporting it by rail.
Certified Operator Qualification (OQ) consultants can administer OQ pipeline training and perform evaluations to ensure compliance with PHMSA's regulations.