Canada’s extensive pipeline grid can be traced back to the 1950s when major crude oil and natural gas finds in western Canada led to the construction of large pipeline systems . Some of the currently operating pipelines in Canada have been operating for over 60 years. With the objective of ensuring that pipelines are suitable for continued reliable, safe and environmentally responsible service, the National Energy Board (NEB) issued the Onshore Pipeline Regulations (OPR) in 1999 (OPR-99) mandating pipeline companies to develop and implement Integrity Management Programs (IMPs).
The OPR-99 allows pipeline companies to tailor the content of the IMPs to particular circumstances. From a life cycle perspective, the majority of pipeline IMPs involve inspection and testing, data management and interpretation, risk assessment, integrity or engineering assessment and pipeline repairs. Despite the evident benefits of implementing IMPs, conducting pipeline repairs can also trigger environmental concerns and permitting requirements. Developing effective Environmental Protection Plans (EPPs) and obtaining federal and provincial environmental permitting in sensitive areas can be time consuming and costly. If these factors and costs are not incorporated to the planning process they can create subsequent delays and financial burdens. Additionally, implementing environmental management practices throughout the life cycle of IMPs will aid pipeline companies in managing environmental issues systematically and effectively while enhancing environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility. Including environmental setting considerations, identifying regulatory requirements and conducting stakeholder engagement during the earliest stages and throughout the IMP is essential to ensure the sustainability of the Program. This paper describes an integrated management system which incorporates environmental considerations throughout the overall IMP and a strategic approach to information management.