Energy producers operating in Western Canada manage a staggering magnitude of assets. Nearly half a million pipelines built over the past 90 years or more span over 700,000 kilometres.
What’s more, the scale of it is only increasing. “Current industry expansion sees an average of 23,000 new pipelines added to this massive network each year,” says Brian Hall, president of GDM, Inc.
Industry regulation holds energy producers responsible for developing and executing detailed integrity management plans to reliably evaluate, track, and address the integrity of these assets on a regular basis.
The size of the pipeline network in this region and the pace of change within it makes this burdensome for even the most proactive companies.
Prioritizing field reviews protects asset integrity – and energy producers
Field reviews are a regulatory component of any proactive Integrity Management Plan, yet many small to medium-sized energy producers find the undertaking challenging.
What prevents energy producers from being proactive with field reviews? Lean staffing levels, a lack of expertise or time, or unfamiliarity with requirements can leave even the most well-intentioned producers without a comprehensive or reliable process.
“It’s 2023, and surprisingly, the pipeline integrity management landscape remains highly fragmented and difficult to navigate,” says Hall. It’s a complex situation that has left many producers in tenuous positions despite their best efforts. In some cases, data is collected but not preserved or validated, causing repeated work and wasted resources as producers try to manage their responsibility in this area. Those who have outsourced the work sometimes are overpaying or don’t understand what they’re paying for each year.
Challenges facing energy producers in integrity management
Even with the existing challenges, companies are expected to complete annual field reviews with a line-by-line review of field assets in the first year, followed by careful record-keeping. Having tangible documentation of line-by-line reviews and a summary of changes in the past year means companies are ready should they be audited.
Yet, many don’t manage, collect, or assess the data for these plans as often as needed. It’s a risk many companies have taken in the past, but many realize their exposure to a damaging incident or audit is higher than they find tolerable.
If these field validations are not performed proactively, the company is left vulnerable to audit and accompanying consequences. These audits are not a rare occurrence, and gambling on avoiding one leaves the company at risk. Energy producers can face an audit at any time, for example as the result of an incident, or a pipeline licence or field audit. If at any time regulators find a company non-compliant, they will take swift action to apply compliance measures and tools. Ignoring the situation simply increases the risk of non-compliance and likely the consequences should an audit occur.
The solution? A proactive approach combining ease and affordability
Awareness is growing across the industry that a more proactive approach is needed and that integrating third-party experts and solutions can help energy producers establish accurate data and reporting to ensure compliance in this critical area.
An innovative solution is needed for companies who need to stay compliant with field reviews but may not have an integrity team equipped to take on the entire task.
Tackling the challenge directly can benefit the company in multiple ways, from increased confidence in overall integrity processes to improved operational decisions based on accurate and timely data. Even better, the benefits can be cumulative.
“If you have the information you need to make it a repeatable, easy process that can be well-managed from the start, over time you end up needing to work less while retaining more benefits,” says Hall.
Such ease is welcome in a landscape that often confounds even producers who feel like they have integrity management processes in place but still dread an audit or incident exposing gaps. What may have worked in the past may no longer be suitable after years of change, acquisitions and divestitures, and other evolutions that have made data hard to collect, manage, store, and validate.
How to assess if you’re ready to re-evaluate your approach
Operators across the industry are beginning to recognize the risk they could be facing should the worst occur. If this isn’t an area where you have complete confidence in your ability to face an audit or demonstrate compliance should an incident occur involving one of your assets, it’s time to explore practical solutions that fill the gaps. If any of these ring true for you, your company may be ready for a change in how you manage field reviews to protect asset integrity.
- You do not have a centralized location that summarizes all mitigation strategies an operator completes.
- Managing vast amounts of data in spreadsheets makes updating, maintaining, and sharing field review results challenging.
- Recent changes and additions to regulations have left you feeling unsure about your integrity management processes and if you’re still compliant.
- You’ve had a consulting company handling this for years, and you’re not sure where things stand or what you’re paying for even though they send you an annual report.
- Assets have changed hands, and you’re not even sure how to confirm what you own and where much less provide an accurate assessment of asset integrity.
- Field reviews aren’t conducted regularly due to staffing levels and other priorities. You’re unsure what your risk level is, but you haven’t had the resources to address it.
- If an energy regulator launched an audit tomorrow, you wouldn’t be able to provide field review data or proof of completion of annual activity.
Field reviews are a vital component of your company’s ability to ensure asset integrity and protect your future in today’s energy landscape.
GDM helps demystify asset integrity and put you back in control
GDM partners with energy producers to offer a cost-effective alternative with the experience to manage the initial heavy lifting. From there, we empower our customers to perform the smaller annual updates independently.
We believe in simplifying complex tasks with cost-effective solutions, empowering customers to do the work themselves. If you’re unhappy with your current solution, “remember that change is possible,” says Hall.
Companies who want to lead in the energy industry in the decades to come have an opportunity to stop leaving things to chance when managing asset integrity.
“Demystifying the world of asset integrity allows operators to take more direct control of their operations where they want to and increases their knowledge of their own systems,” says Hall.
How do we fit into the industry? Over 500 companies including energy producers, pipeline operators, services, government, and educational institutions trust our data every day.
We’re relied on by energy producers to deliver the most complete, accurate, and current data necessary for asset integrity management, data reporting, and analytics services as well as a robust portfolio of essential industry software applications.
With deep roots in energy and a clear vision for the future of the industry, we’re committed to constant product innovation and development. We listen to our customers and are invested in creating new solutions for complex problems energy producers face.
Ready to leverage your data to drive improvements across your operations–and your bottom line? We have a new solution to support a proactive approach to field reviews and how they fit into your overall integrity management plan. Contact us to learn more or to book a demo.