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CSA Unveils First North American Pipeline Security Standard

[Daily News] New guidelines aimed at mitigating security threats to Canada's oil and gas pipeline network are not a knee-jerk reaction to recent bombings in northeast British Columbia, but rather a work in progress initiated partly in response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, officials say.

On Wednesday, CSA Standards unveiled North America's first oil and gas pipeline security standard to help prevent acts of vandalism and sabotage, a document that is expected to be embraced by the pipeline sector.

The president of the not-for-profit organization that is geared toward enhancing public safety and health said that while the six unsolved pipeline bombings against EnCana Corporation in the Dawson Creek, British Columbia area highlight the need for more comprehensive security measures, the document has been in the works since 2005.

"This standard is to help maintain the security of North American energy supply systems as well as provide worker safety. Attacks on pipelines and oil and gas facilities in Western Canada underscore why this standard is a necessity. In just over a year there have been six bomb attacks in the northern B.C. region alone," Suzanne Kiraly said at a news conference at SAIT Polytechnic.

"While not all security risks can be completely prevented, this standard provides a means of identifying, analyzing and reducing risks through the security risk management process, and it will help mitigate these risks."

Brenda Kenny, president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) agreed: "[The] recent attacks on pipelines and facilities in and around the Dawson Creek area certainly demonstrate the need to implement consistent guidelines and to absolutely ensure the safety of local communities," she said.

The development of the standard was initiated by a 2005 amendment to the National Energy Board Act to include "security" within the board's mandate. The National Energy Board (NEB) approached CSA to develop a consensus-based standard which would outline the minimum expected requirements of a security management program.

Although she stopped well short of saying the new standards could have prevented the Dawson Creek incidents, Kiraly said they would have proven beneficial.

"What this would have done was to ensure there is a consistent and comprehensive approach," she said. "So it would absolutely have helped to ensure workers are protected but also that there was a consistent approach to how security was planned and how the aftermath was dealt with."

Kenny said she expected the majority of CEPA members to adhere to the new standards.

"Attention to security, particularly post-911, is absolutely a fact of life we have to live with," she said. "It can ultimately help to save money and, while some companies may have an additional cost as they upgrade their management systems, in the long run it will be of great benefit."

Kiraly wouldn't speculate what adopting and implementing the standards might cost companies but believes that in the long run, the pipeline industry will actually save money by enacting the new measures.

"I think it's hard to put a dollar figure on it. Companies already have systems in place and the amount of work a company would do would be dependent on the size," she said.

"I think one of the concepts that's important to remember is the implementation can actually save money. Instead of looking and doing their own research and relying on a number of consultants, this really provides them with a blueprint for a security system from start to finish that they can rely on and build on what they have already."

In order to help petroleum and natural gas companies evaluate and respond appropriately to security threats, CSA Standards has worked with security and industry professionals to prepare the standard, CSA Z246.1 Security management for petroleum & natural gas industry system.

Gaetan Caron, NEB chair, said the standard uses a risk management and performance-based approach to help identify and reduce threats to oil and gas industry assets. "The world we're living in is changing, we all know that. Sometimes security events are inadvertent and sometimes they are deliberate," he said.

"When those events are deliberate, those who are responsible for security must be very deliberate in responding to potential threats, and therefore getting ready every hour, every moment for the possibility of security events is very important, and I believe this code is a great step forward in making sure that we always remain ready."

Caron said the standard assists in enabling pipeline owners and operators to establish governance, conduct planning, implement security operations (including detection and mitigation practices), and refine the security program through change management and audit processes.

The standard applies to land-based pipeline systems for oil and gas, as well as liquefied gas production, storage and handling facilities, underground hydrocarbons storage, petrochemical installations, oil and gas treatment, production processing, storage operations and related assets.

To help introduce this new approach to industry, CSA Standards is offering seminars that will provide users with a solid foundation of the full range of security and risk management considerations.

Caron noted that the spirit of the standard will be considered in NEB regulatory work immediately and that the current plan is to have the standard "incorporated by reference" in the board's pipeline regulations.

"This is in progress because the code just got launched, so it will take some time to get it truly incorporated," he said.

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