Pipeline Integrity and Efficiency: Costs Are Worth It to Avoid Expenses

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) panel discussion took place on Tuesday, March 8 at the 2022 AMPP Annual Conference + Expo. Photo courtesy of AMPP.

By the nature of its name and intent, the 2022 AMPP Annual Conference + Expo was full of all things new and critical for the industry—not just for now, but also for the future. That spirit certainly applied to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) panel discussion on Tuesday, March 8 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

This particular panel is not new for the annual conference, and it has been a stalwart component that has proven instrumental in encouraging discussion and change while clearly looking toward the future.

Safety has always been of substantial interest for members and industry, of which the moderator, Kevin Garrity, executive vice president of technology at Mears, made clear. “We are so much better because of the regulations and regulatory regime under which we operate,” Garrity says.

Amy Shenk, director of pipeline integrity at Williams, spoke about her company’s journey toward “smart compliance through digital transformation.”

Williams “took a critical look at its pipeline safety management system (PSMS) program,” she notes. “Safety and compliance is essential to our DOT-regulated pipeline systems. We implemented a ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ methodology of continuous improvement to all PSMS-related processes.”

With “tremendous buy-in by the entire Williams company, we changed our reporting culture around, with the number of reported near misses having gone up significantly, which lead to the number of incidents going down,” Shenk says.

As well as building in a reward system for identifying and reporting near misses, the company is moving “completely away from paper and transforming how we do our business,” she says. “We are compliant, we know it, and we can show it.”

Going forward, Shenk notes that Williams’ aspirational goals for its digital business transformation for compliance include machine learning and having artificial intelligence applied to its reporting structure.

Sources: AMPP, www.ampp.org; 2022 AMPP Show Daily, showdaily.ampp.org.