ARCHIVED - Session 6 - Regulators’ Role, Responsibilities and Opportunities - Iain Colquhoun, Chief Engineer - National Energy Board (NEB)

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Safety Forum - June 5-6, 2013

Iain Colquhoun, Chief Engineer
National Energy Board (NEB)

Availability of integrity records is a problem as lines change hands. Is there a role for regulators in enabling record availability?

Yes. Companies are required to have effective management systems, and these require accurate records. The NEB uses a risk-informed methodology to prioritize regulatory oversight (such as audits and inspections). If risk factors associated with records are discovered in this process, then the NEB will take the appropriate measures to require a company to acquire the necessary data and information. In the event this cannot be achieved in a timely manner, the NEB may impose restrictions on a company’s operation to protect people and the environment.

Does (should) the regulator have a role in driving safety culture & SMS performance beyond compliance? If so, is this possible?

Yes. Compliance is the bare minimum with respect to SMS influence on safety culture. It is the very least a company can do. There may be cases where simple compliance is all that is required, but this has to be demonstrated to the Regulator. The Regulator’s expectation is that continual improvement be an integral part of a company’s operating culture. Safety is always top of mind, and this is the mind-set the NEB continually strives to instill in the companies it regulates. The NEB does this through every interaction it has with companies, and through public forums such as this one, which is evidence of the NEB’s on-going commitment to the promotion of safety culture. And yes –the NEB absolutely believes this is possible.

Can anyone on the panel comment on integrating and developing one set of consistent pipeline regulations across Canada?

Canadian provincial and federal regulators are in continuous communication with a view to promoting appropriate harmonization of pipeline regulation. This interaction is in fact extended formally on a bi-annual basis to the federal regulators in the US and Mexico.

Management systems take the industry to the next level - prowell well-sm not reactive.

Although the management system approach to Health, Safety and Environment has been around since the mid-1990’s and to pipeline integrity for at least nine years, the concept is still being internalized by operating companies to a large extent. For this reason the NEB developed a series of performance indicators to assist companies evaluate and improve the performance of their management systems.

Can the panel comment on the risk of regulation that can't keep up with technology holding back innovation?

It is imperative that the Regulator keep up to date with developing technology and ensure that regulatory changes -particularly to prescriptive regulations -are appropriately amended. Having said that, the Regulator is accountable to the people of Canada for safety to people, and the environment, and this should promote caution. Reliance on new technologies ought to only be placed once the technology is proved out in practice. Examples of where the NEB is currently evaluating the effectiveness of technological developments include leak detection and enhanced use of inline inspection data.

If we have time to do just one thing in the next 6 months, what would be that one thing we should change or do better?

The development of a solid preoccupation with safety at all levels of the company - with particular emphasis on the execution of senior management’s commitment to safety by first line supervisors promoting a healthy safety culture on a day to day basis.

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