The digital edition of Pipeline & Gas Journal, September 2015, Vol. 242, No. 9.

At the first-of-its-kind Distribution Contractors Association/American Gas Association (DCA/AGA) Utility Contractor Workshop in Chicago, presenters and attendees were single-minded in their focus on one goal: to ensure the growing contractor workforce has the requisite knowledge to safely build the nation’s gas distribution infrastructure while expanding the contractor workforce to meet the needs of utility main replacement and expansion programs.

With plans at many utilities to accelerate programs aimed at replacing aging pipeline systems, meeting this goal is more important than ever.

OK, I’m a sucker for natural gas. Maybe I’ve learned something these past 25 years that George Mitchell tried to explain: natural gas is the fuel of the future and can revitalize America. After I read this story off the Reuters news wire, can you blame me?

In the oil and gas industry, there is not and never will be a priority higher than the safety of a company’s employees. Go to any industry conference and you’ll see how seriously the topic of safety is taken. It bears repeating: safety is job one.

Exterran, a Houston-based compression company, realizes that an effective safety program always starts from the top. Brad Childers, Exterran’s president and CEO, clearly understands that as does the National Safety Council (NSC) which earlier this year singled out Childers as one of just nine CEOs in the United States who do “get it.”

With liquids pipeline incidents down by half since 1999, even as their use to transport crude oil pipeline has increased, there is little doubt among experts about what has led to this success on the safety front – preventive maintenance and integrity management programs.

“I want to tell you something,” he said to me on many occasions during the quarter-century of our relationship. “As long as I’ve been in this business, I’m still learning because there’s still so much I don’t know.”

That was Carol Freedenthal, one of the smartest men I’ve ever known. So smart, in fact, that he was always the first to admit he still had so much to learn about a changing business in an even faster changing world. For someone like me, who would never know a tenth as much about the business as he did, those words taught me a lifelong lesson.

Since the oil price collapse, global oil production has risen, not fallen. Since the fateful Nov. 27, 2014 OPEC meeting, aggregate production from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Iraq is up 2 MMbop/d – far more than demand.

November is also when the U.S. inadvertently became the swing oil producer. Prices have not yet fallen far enough or for long enough for an appreciable U.S. supply adjustment to occur. It may not be far off, especially if oil prices fall further with new Iranian supplies, says a study from IHS Energy that notes:

House members of both parties drubbed the latest top PHMSA official to appear before Congress to answer questions about lagging pipeline safety rule implementation.

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, operators have undergone progressively tighter regulatory restrictions in both offshore and onshore environments.

Along with restructuring the Department of the Interior to include the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), more than seventeen reforms have been implemented since the 2010 accident, targeting everything from well-design to maintenance reviews to safety culture.

Editor’s note: This update, provided by the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor’s office, is part of an ongoing effort to help keep the public informed about the Alaska LNG project.

Alaska is vast, with a lot of open ground, but it seems like transportation projects in the state - be it roads, railroads or pipelines – can’t help but cross over or under each other while traversing the same natural corridors.

Syndicate content