ARCHIVED - Session 6 - Regulators’ Role, Responsibilities and Opportunities - Tom Pesta, Senior Advisor, Pipelines - Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)

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Safety Forum - June 5-6, 2013

Tom Pesta, Senior Advisor, Pipelines
Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)

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

Absolutely, the regulators can and should promote Safety Culture. There are many areas that are not defined by minimum requirements and rely on best industry practices. Such areas provide prime opportunities for a safety culture approach. In some situations, the rules and standards prescribe effective management systems, which also provide opportunities for the implementation of Safety Culture. The rules and standards define minimum requirements, but in many situations it is appropriate to go beyond minimum requirements. Effective Safety Culture helps guide such necessary additional steps.

Tom: there are 900 pipeline companies governed by the AER. Are all of them registered with Alberta One-Call?

Alberta’s pipeline rules specify that all pipeline licensees must be registered with Alberta One-Call. About 500 to 600 are registered with Alberta One-Call. The AER is working with Alberta One-Call to ensure all pipeline licensees are registered.

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

I have not seen any examples where the regulation held back innovation. Alberta’s rules are primarily outcome-based and do not prescribe specific technology. This and an increased emphasis on the use of effective management systems can promote innovation.

Key Message - Regulators enforce the regulatory floor and to provide the opportunities for companies to do well.

Rules and standards establish the minimum requirements, but are not intended to address all unique circumstances. It is the licenses responsibility to apply competent engineering judgment and go beyond minimum requirements where dictated by the circumstances.

The AER tends to regulate with a very prescriptive and site-specific focus, rather than a risk management focus, is there plan to change?

The AER will continue to monitor compliance with outcome-based requirements and minimum prescriptive requirements but will supplement that approach by increasing focus on the use and evaluation of management systems and defining performance goals. Management systems allow for risk management approaches.

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?

In addition to compliance with safety and loss management system requirements, licensees’ must work to establish an effective safety culture.

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