Pipeline Integrity Management is a process for evaluating and reducing pipeline risks. The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 required the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) to develop and issue regulations that address risk analysis and integrity management programs (IMP) for pipeline operators. In 2003, PHMSA finalized the IMP regulations which pipeline operators were required to implement the following year. As a result of these regulations, natural gas transmission companies must conduct baseline evaluations of pipe segments within high consequence areas (HCAs) by the end of 2012. HCAs are defined as areas where a gas pipeline failure would have a significant impact on public safety or the environment.
Integrity Management Program:
CenterPoint Energy has implemented a robust IMP to achieve or exceed the requirements mandated by PHMSA. This program builds on an existing foundation of pipeline safety regulations covering design, construction, testing, operation and maintenance - a foundation that was laid many years ago. CenterPoint Energy’s IMP is required for approximately 180 miles of HCA pipeline segments, but we plan to do more. By the end of 2012, the company expects to have evaluated over 2,500 miles of pipelines - over 10 times the amount required by PHMSA.
Our Integrity Management Program consists of seven main steps:
- HCA Identification: CenterPoint Energy evaluates population densities each year to determine the HCAs along the pipeline system.
- Data Integration: The company gathers and integrates information from historical construction documents, pipeline operating history, and pipeline evaluations.
- Risk Analysis: The company then analyzes individual pipeline segments for exposure to threats as well as the public safety and environmental consequences of a pipeline failure.
- Evaluation: Using state of the art tools, CenterPoint Energy evaluates the pipeline segments for corrosion, damage or other issues detrimental to the safe operation of the pipeline segment.
- Repair: The company then investigates and repairs any issues found during the evaluation step to ensure the pipeline continues to operate safely.
- Minimize Risks: The company utilizes data integration, risk analysis, evaluations and repairs to develop actions that can be taken to minimize or eliminate future damage and/or consequences.
- Improve: Finally, the company evaluates the IMP for areas of success and looks for other areas on our pipeline system where improvements can be made. We incorporate these improvements into our ongoing safety initiatives and the cycle starts again.
The ultimate goal of CenterPoint Energy’s IMP is to protect people living, working and playing near our pipelines, as well as protecting the environment surrounding our pipelines. As a direct result of our IMP efforts, CenterPoint Energy has excavated and examined over 2,100 pipeline segments.
- To combat internal corrosion, we ran over 220 cleaning pigs in 2011 to clean our pipelines, used corrosion inhibitors, and monitored internal corrosion using metal probes.
- To reduce external corrosion, we use cathodic protection equipment and routinely take test point readings to evaluate the pipeline’s level of protection. We also perform pipeline coating surveys - so far we have covered 3,100 miles of our system and plan to complete the entire system by 2016.
- To help prevent third party damage we employ pipeline markers, aerial patrols, foot patrols, and right-of-way clearing. In addition, CenterPoint Energy is fully committed to, and participates in, the 8-1-1 Call Before You Dig Program.
CenterPoint Energy has a comprehensive Public Awareness program. We dedicate a great deal of time and resources to keeping in contact with both the public and the emergency responders located near our pipelines. Each year we mail hundreds of thousands of information packets to people living near our pipelines. We also have safety meetings with excavation contractors, law enforcement and fire prevention officials. In addition, we send age appropriate educational materials to the schools near our pipelines. It is our goal to partner with the officials dedicated to protecting the public.
CenterPoint Energy is a proud participant and supporter of industry efforts to continually improve pipeline safety and reliability. We are a member of Intrastate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) and actively participate in the INGAA Integrity Management Continuous Improvement (IMCI) initiative. IMCI has set a goal of zero incidents as one of its guiding principles. Another IMCI goal is to apply integrity management principles on a much larger scale than required by current regulations. CenterPoint Energy supports these INGAA initiatives and participates on IMCI planning teams.
In addition, the company participates in research projects hosted by Pipeline Research Council International, Inc (PRCI). PRCI is dedicated to researching issues and producing solutions that assure safe and reliable pipelines. CenterPoint is a PRCI member company and participates on many PRCI research teams.
CenterPoint Energy believes we are one of the companies leading the pipeline industry to a safer, more reliable future.
CenterPoint Energy is committed to protecting the public and environment. Our dedication to safety is a reflection of our company values: Integrity, Accountability, Initiative and Respect. If you need further information or have additional questions, please contact us at Midstream Pipeline Safety.