Improving Performance

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Improving Performance

While we’re encouraged that the number of pipeline incidents has gone down, we believe that all pipeline incidents are preventable. However, we know this will take considerable work and that incremental steps need to be taken, which is why this year, our priority is to reduce the number of high-consequence pipeline incidents by two per cent compared to the previous two-year average.1  We will continue to set the bar higher each year and take action to ensure that performance improves steadily.

In addition to taking enforcement actions when required, we’ll accomplish our goal by

  • examining incident data for each operator and identifying those who are not following requirements so we can work with them to improve their performance—whether that means educating them on pipeline integrity or taking enforcement action to deter future missteps;
  • adopting a risk-based approach and looking at operators in comparison to their peers, conducting more inspections and audits on and providing more education to operators with poorer performance;
  • enhancing our investigation process and sharing lessons learned from previous incidents with industry to prevent similar incidents.

While the AER can provide regulatory oversight to help prevent pipeline incidents, industry is accountable for their actions and must do their part to improve performance. It’s up to operators to cooperate with each other and share best practices focused on safe operations, and the prevention of pipeline incidents.

Looking Forward

Pipeline performance is more than just complying with our requirements. It’s about going above and beyond and making sure that pipelines are safe and that the environment and Albertans are protected.

An important next step to improve pipeline performance is to better understand the cumulative impacts that pipeline releases are having on the environment—especially where vulnerable species and habitats exist. This will involve assessing the environmental impacts of pipeline releases, placing a greater focus on pipelines in sensitive areas, and working with operators to determine if extra precautions need to be taken for these pipelines.

With the information we have on pipeline performance, we can make sure that our requirements align with the outcomes we’re trying to achieve, put risk mitigation and management strategies in place, and make more informed decisions on energy development activities, taking into consideration environmental conditions, operator performance, and stakeholder concerns.

We will use the data to target our approach with industry, focusing on those operators that are missing the mark to help them understand how they can improve performance. We will also analyze trends regarding the causes of pipeline incidents and share that information with industry and stakeholders so that the same incidents won’t be repeated, and we will continue to work closely with industry and regulators across the world to identify and adopt new technology to improve the integrity of pipelines and to prevent incidents.

Over time, we’ll be able to report on the environmental impacts associated with pipeline performance, track our progress, and demonstrate to Albertans how our work is making a difference and delivering outcomes that matter.


1 This goal is based on AER’s fiscal year and is included in AER’s 2016-19 strategic plan.