To ensure gas utility pipelines have appropriate documentation of procedures to monitor pipeline integrity and to respond to a potential emergency incident, the Commission undertakes to review the relevant procedure manuals for the gas utility pipelines it regulates in Alberta. This examination assists in the AUC's role in the natural gas industry to ensure safe and reliable pipeline facilities in Alberta, considering the economic, social and environmental effects. This examination was further referenced in Decision 2014-010 ATCO Pipelines Urban Pipeline Replacement Project where the Commission stated that a consultant had been engaged by the Commission to verify that policies, methods and procedures are in place to manage pipeline integrity on the ATCO Pipelines system. In that decision, the Commission indicated that the results of that review would be shared and that the Commission would deal with any issues that might arise.
The AUC requested Apex Utilities Inc. (formerly AltaGas Utilities Inc.) and ATCO Pipelines, under the authority of the Pipeline Regulation, sections 7 and 8, to file copies of their manuals relating to pipeline integrity management and emergency response plans. An independent consultant was engaged by the AUC to review the content of the manuals against the criteria established in the relevant standards and legislation. The consultant’s reviews and the utilities’ response to those reviews are provided below.
In general, the consultant found the pipeline integrity management manuals for ATCO and Apex to be satisfactory with some clarification opportunities identified. The emergency response manuals for ATCO were assessed similarly. A number of opportunities for improvement were initially identified by the consultant for the Apex emergency response manual. In that respect, Commission staff and the consultant met with Apex in October 2013. Apex subsequently filed updated manuals and provided further clarification details. The Commission is now satisfied that previously identified shortcomings for Apex have been demonstrated to be resolved and that Apex has adequate documentation within its emergency procedure manuals. The Commission considers that completion of this review also satisfies the reference in Decision 2014-010 to share the results of the review process for the ATCO Pipelines integrity management procedures.
The Commission intends to update its review of the pipeline integrity management and emergency response procedural manuals on a five-year basis.
In September 2014, the Commission requested reporting from ATCO and Apex with respect to risk identification, integrity inspections, overpressure protection and pipeline water crossings. Responses were received in November 2014. In February 2015 the Commission requested further information from ATCO and Apex respecting overpressure protection. In December 2015, additional responses were submitted. ATCO Pipelines indicated in November 2016 that it was finalizing its investigation at several sites. In February 2017, ATCO pipelines confirmed that adequate overpressure protection is in place at all sites and that it will be re-verified annually.
In March 2016, the AUC requested ATCO Pipelines and Apex Utilities Inc. to ensure that substandard pipe materials and installation practices such as identified in National Energy Board safety advisories have not occurred and are prevented. Both utilities provided responses in June 2016 confirming that their installations were appropriate and providing their associated design and installation processes.
On April 27, 2016, ATCO Pipelines verbally advised the AUC that it was investigating potential shortcomings associated with radiographic inspections for prefabricated piping assemblies conducted by outside contractors in the ATCO Edmonton welding shop between 2008 and 2015. The investigation scope includes review of both the quality of the radiographic films as well as the quality of the welds. The following correspondence describes the process undertaken:
The AUC will continue activities to ensure the ongoing safety of the pipeline systems it oversees.
For further information or clarification, contact Brian Shand at email@example.com or 403-592-4434.