Letter to the Minister – Quality Assurance of Pipeline Fittings Project

Letter to the Minister – Quality Assurance of Pipeline Fittings Project [PDF 340 KB]

The Honorable James Carr, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
580 Booth Street, 21st Floor, Room: C7-1
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0E4

Dear Minister:

National Energy Board Technical Workshop on Pipeline Fittings

Please be advised that the NEB is convening a Technical Workshop on Quality Assurance for Pipeline Fittings on 28 and 29 June 2017 in Calgary, Alberta. The purpose of the workshop is to identify potential actions or solutions to improve quality assurance for pipeline components throughout the supply chain. Experts from pipeline companies, distributors, manufacturers, regulators, academia, consulting companies and standards associations will be attending the workshop.

This workshop is but one of the actions the NEB is taking to lead and facilitate the review and improvement of standards and quality assurance processes for the manufacturing and procurement of pipeline fittings used in pipeline projects.  We began taking ongoing action to ensure that safety was not compromised, once we became aware of the possibility of fittings (elbows, tees, and reducers) not fully meeting specifications entering the supply chain.

An industry wide Safety Advisory and Order, was issued in February 2016, to advise industry of the manufacturers of the fittings, and to require companies to report on the extent of fittings from these manufacturers in their systems. On April 12, 2017, the NEB followed up with amendments to the Advisory (two other manufacturers have been identified) and a Notice of Intent to amend the Order to broaden our review.

It is important to note that there have been no pipeline failures as a result of this emerging issue, and we are confident that the pipeline systems under our watch remain safe for service, because all the fittings were pressure tested before being put into service. Notwithstanding this, we are continuing to evaluate, on an ongoing basis, the fittings identified in company submissions. Given the uniqueness of this issue, we subjected our evaluation criteria to an independent scientific review, and have adopted the review recommendations to ensure our ongoing evaluation of these fittings is thorough.

This issue is a broad systemic issue, with its roots in the manufacturing process, an area where the NEB has no authority or jurisdiction. At the same time, hazards and risks associated with the assessment and procurement of fittings, is dealt with through pipeline company management system processes that the NEB can effect oversight on. Given our focus on public safety and environmental protection, we have decided that we must step up to bring all stakeholders together to discuss the issues, and develop solutions.

These steps to drive system changes are what excellence demands of a regulator. The potential for complacency to affect safety at any point in the supply chain requires a strong regulator to assure that the right things are being done to achieve safety. To date, no incidents have been reported in relation to this issue and the NEB would like to keep it that way.

I am confident that the expertise being gathered for the workshop will provide the NEB with good advice on actions to take and promote safety in concert with all parts of the industry involved in pipeline components. I would be pleased to provide any additional information you may require on this matter, or answer any questions you may have.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

C. Peter Watson, P.Eng., FCAE


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