In the United States, recent legislation has dictated that by October 2002, all personnel that perform tasks that can affect the safety and integrity of pipeline operations (“covered tasks”) must have demonstrated that they are “qualified” to perform those tasks. Around the world, governments are considering passing equivalent legislation to require control room staff (and other operations personnel) to demonstrate their proficiency. The U.S. Department of Transportation has instituted the “Operator Qualification” rule in 49CFR Part 192 Subpart N (natural gas), and Part 195 Subpart G (hazardous liquids). After October 27th 2002, it will be unlawful for anyone performing a covered task not to have demonstrated proficiency in that task, unless they are under the direct supervision of a “qualified” person. While the rule applies to anyone performing a covered task, this paper concentrates simply on pipeline controllers. One specific focus of the law is the demonstration that staff are qualified to perform covered tasks under both normal and abnormal conditions. For control room staff, abnormal conditions occur only rarely, and the likelihood that any one individual is in the control room when a pipeline incident occurs is slim, at best. Simulation is uniquely situated to help train and qualify control room staff. Not only can pipeline controllers, as part of their training, be repeatedly exposed to abnormal conditions in a safe environment, but structured testing involving simulated abnormal conditions can also demonstrate qualification to react appropriately. This paper summarizes key points of the U.S. legislation, and introduces pipeline controller training simulators in outline. The experiences of three operating companies in their use of simulators to comply with legislated proficiency testing are recounted.

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