Enbridge Must Submit Safety Plan for Lakehead Pipeline System

Enbridge Energy Partners must submit for review and approval a comprehensive written plan, including timelines for specific actions, to improve the safety record of the Lakehead Pipeline System, U.S. regulators said Wednesday.

The review and plan are amendments to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA's) July 30 Correction Action Order for Enbridge. The CAO was issued in response to a July 27 oil leak, in which 1,200 barrels of crude oil were spilled from Line 14 of Enbridge's 1,900-mile Lakehead Pipeline System near Grand Marsh, Wisc. Line 14 runs from Superior, Wisc., to Mokena, Ill.

The agency reported that continued operation of the pipeline without corrective action would be hazardous to life, property and the environment. U.S. regulators on Tuesday said Enbridge could not restart pipeline operations until it conducted additional tests, Dow Jones reported.

PHMSA – part of the Department of Transportation in its original CAO had ordered Enbridge to take immediate corrective action to ensure safe operations on the pipeline. In its preliminary findings, the agency noted a history of failures on the Lakehead system, including a failure on Line 14 in 2007 and a failure on Line 6B in July 2010 in Marshall, Mich.

Additional failures throughout all parts of the Lakehead system indicate Enbridge's integrity management program may be inadequate, PHMSA noted, adding that it has communicated its longstanding concerns about this pattern of failures with Enbridge over the past several years.

"Given the nature, circumstances, and gravity of this pattern of accidents, additional corrective measures are warranted," PHMSA said. The investigation into the recent pipeline is ongoing.

In its amended CAO, PHMSA ruled that Enbridge must hire an independent third party pipeline expert to review and assess the written plan, which the third party will submit to PHMSA and Enbridge, PHMSA said in a statement.

The third party expert also must oversee the creation, execution and implementation of the actions identified in the plan, and must provide monitoring summaries to PHMSA and Enbridge concurrently.

The plan to enhance safety must address:

  • Organizational issues, including the promotion of a safety culture and creation of a safety management system
  • Facilities response plan
  • Control room management
  • Priorities for pipeline placement
  • Training
  • In-line inspection result interpretation
  • Current engineering and probability of failure modeling
  • Leak detection systems
  • Sensor and flow measuring and valve replacement
  • Integrity verification
  • Quality management system
  • Any other risk, task, issue or item that is necessary to promote and sustain the safety of its pipeline system.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com


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