Ottawa and provincial pipeline regulators are holding workshops across Western Canada this year in a bid to improve and simplify the inspection process.
Workshops have already been held in Fort St. John, B.C., Victoria and Winnipeg. More are planned for Lloydminster, Sask., Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Grande Prairie, Bonnyville and Estevan, Sask., in the fall.
"Our overall goal of it is to share best practices and to strengthen integrity-management programs," says Lauren Hopkins, a spokeswoman for the National Energy Board. "(A workshop) is open to all interested parties, which include industry, landowners (and) the public."
The sessions resulted after Ottawa, the provinces and the public called for a more efficient "pigging" system that reduces overlap and duplication between regulators.
Pipeline pigging refers to the inserting of "pigs" to clean and inspect pipelines.
Pipeline operators often complain about the requirement - and expense - of having to obtain approval from Ottawa and a provincial or territorial regulator on one issue.
"All regulators in Western Canada are committed to working for the safety and benefit of those involved," said NEB chairman Gaetan Caron in a news release.
"Through these workshops, we'll be able to share best practices, strengthen integrity-management programs and avoid regulatory overlap."
NEB spokeswoman Hopkins says the aim is to educate both pipeline companies and the public at the same time.
"By opening up our doors to everyone, we're guaranteeing that there is no difference between what industry is sharing and learning and the public is learning," says Hopkins.
Lee Shanks, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, says the B.C. sessions were not as well attended as hoped, but participants were happy that they could meet with a federal and provincial regulator at the same time.
"Basically, what we're requiring here in the province of British Columbia to pig - and become aware - of every inch of their pipeline," she says.
Companies must then devise an integrity-management plan that identifies risks. They must then submit their plans to either the NEB or the provincial regulator, depending on the jurisdiction.
"The purpose of the workshops was to bring together both regulators in B.C. here and share with industry what the requirement of the integrity-management initiative is, and how we as regulators are working to ensure that what we are doing is consistent across the board - so that we're both applying the same standards," she says.
Companies will be required to comply in stages. Regulators will audit pipelines on a random basis. They are required to inspect their pipeline and submit their plan by a certain date."
Registration for the fall sessions was due to begin this month. Session dates were still being finalized, with sessions hosting a maximum of 75 participants.
Web Watch: www.neg-one.gc.ca