CALGARY — The Canadian Standards Association has published a blueprint to help oil and gas companies protect their pipelines from vandalism and sabotage — a need highlighted by recent bomb attacks on EnCana Corp.’s (TSX:ECA) operations in northeastern British Columbia.
CSA, in collaboration with the National Energy board, said Wednesday it has developed standards that pipeline owners and operators can use to identify risks and tailor systems to reduce those threats.
“We’ve already got a good system and this is going to make it better,” said Suzanne Kiraly, president of standards for the CSA, a not-for-profit organization geared toward enhancing public safety and health.
“It’s about making communities, workers and the pipelines even safer than they currently are.”
Besides pipelines, the CSA’s standards will apply to various storage and processing infrastructure used by the oil and gas industry.
“It can be anything from how your facilities are secured, how you monitor against vandalism, how you share information with neighbours to look for unusual activities — the kinds of pieces of the puzzle that you would put together to guard against risk,” said Brenda Kenny, head of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
Canadian companies already do a good job of putting safety at the forefront, but instead of having a handful of engineers within a firm deal with the risk, the industry will now be able to draw on a wider pool of expertise, Kenny said.
“Suddenly you have 30 or 60 of Canada’s best and brightest saying, ’generally speaking, these are the sorts of things you need to address,”’ she said.
The new CSA standards will be voluntary, but the could pave the way for regulators to enshrine the guidelines into law, Kenny added.
“They provide an excellent foundation for regulators who then don’t have to recreate the wheel.”
The new CSA standard follows six bombings of EnCana pipelines in Western Canada over the past 13 months. No one was hurt in the attacks, which mainly targeted the company’s natural gas pipelines in northeastern British Columbia. So far, the bombing cases haven’t been solved.
The B.C. government issued new guidelines in September, but the Canadian Standards Association has developed a national standard.
The National Energy Board approached the CSA to develop the standard after security was brought within the federal regulator’s mandate in 2005.
“The NEB is proud to be partnering with CSA Standards in developing a security standard that is comprehensive, thorough and incorporates established best practices in the pipeline industry,” NEB chairman and chief executive Gaetan Caron said.