The American Petroleum Institute (API) announced today the release of a new pipeline safety management system standard, ANSI/API Recommended Practice 1173.  The standard has been under development since NTSB recommended that a safety management system (SMS) standard be developed for the pipeline industry in 2012, in its report following the 2010 oil pipeline accident in Marshall, Michigan.  RP 1173 was developed by API with input from NTSB, PHMSA, states, and industry representatives.  After the draft standard was issued for public comment in early 2014, PHMSA held a series of public workshops (see prior posts on the February and July 2014, and April 2015 workshops), bringing together representatives from pipeline industry sectors, state and federal regulators, and public safety advocates to discuss SMS best practices.

The purpose of the standard is to help pipeline operators create a framework for developing a comprehensive, process-oriented approach to safety, emphasizing continual assessment and improvement.  As reflected in the table of contents for the standard, RP 1173 contemplates commitment of operator leadership and management, as well as both internal and external stakeholder engagement.  At present, PHMSA does not intend to  incorporate the standard into its pipeline safety regulations, but the Agency does encourage operators to utilize the standard.  [For more detailed discussion of what the standard means to operators, see prior post.]