Canadian Manufacturing

Safety culture: The driver of innovation and sustainability

Canada's pipeline industry uses technology to help reach its goal of zero release-related incidents


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CEPA president and chief executive Brenda Kenny.

CEPA president and chief executive Brenda Kenny.

CALGARY—Canadians are used to high energy reliability and safety—after all, we live in a country known for its abundant natural resources.

But the critical infrastructure that makes the Canadian energy lifestyle possible is often hidden or unknown to the average citizen. In fact, with the exception of electricity, virtually all of Canada’s energy is transported by underground transmission pipelines, which deliver 97 per cent of our
onshore crude oil and natural gas production.

The seeming “invisibility” of these “energy highways” is a direct result of the safety efforts pipeline operators build into every pipeline as its designed and constructed. Ensuring the products shipped through pipelines safely reach their destinations requires a complex system of technology and infrastructure.

Canada’s transmission pipeline system spans 115,000 kilometres, and every section is closely monitored to ensure it’s operating properly. It’s the pipeline industry’s commitment to safety that drives our focus on using the most innovative technologies—we are always looking for solutions to make pipelines more sustainable, efficient and safe for communities and the environment.

We know that technology and management systems alone aren’t good enough, and we must act deliberately and put safety first to improve pipeline integrity, damage prevention and emergency response.

Focusing on continuous improvement

The pipeline industry takes safety so seriously that we’ve established our own program to elevate our safety practices to the highest levels. Since 2012, the Integrity First program has enabled the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), which represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies, and its 12 member companies to work together to advance our environmental, safety and socio-economic practices, with the ultimate goal of eliminating pipeline incidents.

Similar to other sector programs, such as Responsible Care in the chemicals industry, CEPA’s Integrity First is the pipeline industry’s commitment to working together to define and apply best practices that will strengthen our performance. These practices include research and collaboration on technology and pipeline innovations.

Integrity First is a significant program because safety requires a high level of cooperation and particular attention to safety culture across the industry. This involves a great deal of leadership within companies and between companies, and CEPA’s role is to enhance industry collaboration and enable companies to respectfully challenge each other to operate safely.

Pipeline companies have a duty to serve, and our energy highways must be as safe and environmentally sound as possible. CEPA Integrity First helps us to speed up our efforts to continuously improve to get to our publicly stated goal of zero incidents.

Enhancing operations and building sustainability

The pipeline industry doesn’t believe in innovation for the sake of innovation.
Every technology adoption, process change or construction decision is based on the principle of continuous improvement and operational enhancement.

We need to be intentional to be successful as operators—not only is it our responsibility in the energy sector to make progressive decisions for current and future generations, but it’s also an opportunity to position Canada as a leader in global energy safety and innovation.

We have to stay focused on excellence and driving performance. Technology—which plays a role in every phase of the pipeline lifecycle—ensures that we are always pushing the performance of the industry, making pipeline operations safer and more environmentally sustainable every day.

This focus requires collaboration, partnership and leadership. For example, as a strong, independent driver of emission reduction and energy efficiency, the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. (CCEMC) is stimulating the developing of transformative technologies—some that could change the operations of the pipeline industry and help us minimize our environmental impact.

Ensuring our future

The commitment from each CEPA member to put our safety culture first and cooperate on continuous improvement has created a solid foundation for our future as an industry. But, it’s just the start.

We need to stay focused on innovation in our management systems, our technology and most importantly, our safety culture to realize our goal of zero incidents. This is our duty to Canadians—as an industry we are accountable to meet Canadians’ current and future energy needs, safely and responsibly.

—Brenda Kenny is the president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.


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