More Systems - Pipeline SMS

More Pipeline Management Systems

An operator’s Pipeline Safety Management System (Pipeline SMS) serves as the “umbrella” framework with the specific management systems (integrity, emergency response, leak detection, etc.) ultimately “answering” to it, through metrics and other management system requirements. In the end, how operators want to execute these systems is up to them. They should just ensure a “Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)” process is in place.

Table of Contents

Integrity Management Program

  • Mission and Objectives
  • Guiding Principles
  • Relevant Documents

Emergency Response Management System

  • Mission and Objectives
  • Guiding Principles
  • Relevant Documents

Leak Detection Management System

  • Mission and Objectives
  • Guiding Principles
  • Relevant Documents

Construction Quality Management System

  • Mission and Objectives
  • Guiding Principles


Integrity Management Program

Mission and Objectives

The goal of any operator is to maintain pipeline integrity to prevent adverse effects on the environment and the public, with the ultimate objective being zero incidents. The guidance in API Recommended Practice (RP) 1160, Managing System Integrity for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines, provides a framework for an effective integrity management program, which helps focus resources on prevention activities that effectively:

  • identify and analyze actual and potential precursor events that can result in other incidents;
  • provide a comprehensive and integrated means for examining risk and selecting the appropriate activity to reduce risk
  • establish and track system performance ensuring continuous improvement

Similar to API Recommended Practice (RP) 1173, API RP 1160 was developed by pipeline operators, for pipeline operators. While it is a tool for operators, external stakeholders, such as the public and the regulators, were engaged to receive feedback from all groups involved in the many aspects of pipeline integrity.

Certain guiding principles are fundamental for API RP 1160 and effective integrity management programs.

  • Integrity should be a consideration in initial planning, design, and construction. The design, such as where the pipeline is routed, impacts the capability to inspect and maintain the pipeline. Also, properly installing the pipeline ensures there is no damage before operation even begins, and it is critical to know and document the as-built condition of the pipeline to establish the correct baseline information for an integrity management program.
  • Effective integrity management is built on qualified people using defined processes. A comprehensive program needs to have plans in place to train people and processes for these individuals to follow, so their activities are routine.
  • Information detailing risk to a pipeline system can come from a variety of sources, such as in-line inspection tools, direct assessment, and construction data, just to name a few. The integration of all this data is essential to properly managing system integrity. Operators must ensure they are collecting the appropriate details and analyzing it effectively to make prudent decisions to reduce these risks. This process of reviewing pipeline data and making informed decisions can vary with several methods available to assist operators. However, the ultimate goal is to identify and prioritize the most significant risks and implement measures to prevent incidents.
  • As with API RP 1173, an integrity management program should be flexible to support each operator’s unique conditions, and it should be continuously evaluated. Design and operational changes can occur, possibly causing changes to the type of inspection method used or their frequency. Additionally, new and improved technologies are being developed, and operators need to adapt their integrity management programs to incorporate these advances. Obviously, operators will evaluate these new technologies before implementing to ensure it is effective, but if so, significant risk reduction may be available, as new widgets are helping better identify pipe flaws and critical data about the pipeline.
  • To ensure constant improvement through continual evaluation, integrity management programs have a “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle. An example of what an operator might do is shown below:

Relevant Documents

PDCA leak detection chart



Emergency Response Management System

Mission and Objectives

The goal of all operators is to conduct an efficient and safe emergency response in the event of an incident or spill. The guidance in API Recommended Practice (RP) 1174, Onshore Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Emergency Preparedness & Response, provides a framework for an effective emergency response, ensuring a response is carried out safely and help reduce potential environmental impacts through enhanced efficiency: It consists of six fundamental steps:

  1. Statements of the system’s policies and objectives
  2. Documented procedures
  3. Documents, records, and job aids
  4. Identification of legal and other applicable emergency response requirements
  5. Processes intended to ensure continuity and promote system improvement
  6. Measure goals and objectives

This Recommend Practice (RP) is intended to align industry, government, and emergency response organizations’ expectations practices, and competencies. In addition this RP will promote safe, timely, and effective response to incidents.

Guiding Principles

There are several key parts within API RP 1174:

  • Planning: The operator should develop Response Plans to address the response to a release, incorporate a risk-based approach for emergency response planning, and identify the roles and responsibilities of its emergency responders in accordance with NIMS Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Emergency Procedures: The operator should establish emergency response procedures that ensure the ability to communicate promptly, respond quickly to the emergency, mitigate risks, and protect people and the environment. There are three initial Emergency Response Phases: Phase 1 discovery, shutdown, and notification, phase 2 resource mobilization, and phase 3 initial response actions.
  • Training Exercises: The operator should develop a training and exercise program for emergencies that follow National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) Guidelines, and NIMS Incident Command System (ICS). Additionally, operators should participate in annual Incident Management Team (IMT) exercises.
  • RESPONSE: The operator should develop Response Plans that has consistency with the National Contingency Plan (NCP), Area Contingency Plans (ACPs), and complies with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The operator should initially over respond to the incident and scale the response as additional information about the nature of the incident is gathered.
  • NIMS Incident Command System (ICS): The operator should use NIMS Incident Command System (ICS). ICS Provides an organization and management structure for an emergency response that allow for the unity of command, common terminology, optimal span of control, flexible and modular organization, and management by objectives.
  • Relevant Documents

    The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is a four-step model for implementing change.

    1174 PDCA



    Leak Detection Management System

    Mission and Objectives

    The desired goal of any pipeline operator is to maintain a robust leak detection program to facilitate appropriate actions to prevent adverse impacts to infrastructure, the environment, and public safety. The guidance in API Recommended Practice (RP) 1175, Pipeline Leak Detection – Program Management, provides the needed framework to develop sound practices within a pipeline company. This RP:

    • Provides liquid pipeline operators with guidance on development, implementation, and management of a sustainable Leak Detection Program (LDP) to minimize the size and consequences of leak events; while the focus is on liquid pipeline operation, the philosophy of the RP can be extended to gas pipeline operation.
    • Provides pipeline operators with enhanced guidance on selection of leak detection systems (LDSs) using a risk-based approach and establishes performance measures for the capabilities of these systems.
    • Provides information on how to address identified gaps.
    • Provides guidance in developing, maintaining and managing a pipeline LDP that conforms to current pipeline regulations, as well as encourages pipeline operators to “go beyond” in order to promote the advancement or stronger utilization of LDPs in hazardous liquid pipelines.

    Guiding Principles

    The overall goal of the LDP is to detect leaks quickly and with certainty, thus facilitating quicker shutdown and therefore minimizing negative consequences. There are several key parts within API RP 1175:

    • Leak Detection Culture & Strategy: Develop and create a LDP that is supported by all branches and departments of the company ranging from management down to daily operators. Outline how the company will meet minimum regulatory requirements and encourage going beyond the minimum to implement industry best practices.
    • Selection of Leak Detection Systems: Select the desired principles, methods and techniques that will become the foundation of the company’s LDP.
    • Performance Targets, Metrics, & KPIs: Establish performance targets, metrics, and KPIs for LDSs.
    • Testing: Perform periodic testing of LDSs within the LDP. This allows for the opportunity to improve the culture, procedures and knowledge levels.
    • Control Center Procedures for Recognition, Response & Alarm Management: Develop procedures to ensure that appropriate action, tools, analysis and understanding of any potential leak indication is carried out effectively.
    • Roles & Responsibilities: Pipeline operators should have clear descriptions of their employee’s roles and responsibilities, as well as the duties of any other stakeholders.
    • Training: An effective training program has the potential to greatly reduce the risk consequences of a pipeline leak. Employees should be trained to work together effectively as a team.
    • Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) for Leak Detection Equipment: Ensure that all components of the LDS and their supporting infrastructure components are designed for reliability and maintained appropriately.
    • Overall Performance Evaluation of the LDP: The LDP should capture noteworthy results of operations, examine company and industry performance and report to management the results of the overall performance on an annual basis.
    • Improvement Planning and Process: Efforts should be made to identify and define opportunities to improve any part of the LDP. The LDP should be updated and improved on regular basis to ensure an effective program.

    Relevant Documents

    Click on the title below to view the relevant documents.

    API RP 1175 Leak Detection Program Management Webinar

    Listen to the below audio recording of the Leak Detection Program Management Webinar hosted by API. Click here to follow along with the PowerPoint presentation.



    Construction Quality Management System

    Mission and Objectives

    Operators ensure there is a focus on quality assurance during the building of a pipeline through an organized framework, often referred to as a Construction Quality Management System, or QMS. All this effort helps to mitigate the chance for an issue, such as a leak, to arise either during start up or years later because of a poor construction practice. If there is a focus on decreasing flaws that may occur during construction, then the chance for a leak or rupture is decreased significantly, progressing towards the industry’s goal of zero incidents. The guidance in API Recommended Practice (RP) 1177, Recommended Practice for Steel Pipeline Construction Quality Management Systems, establishes minimum processes for companies that own and operate pipelines, as well as those that construct them.

    Similar to other API RPs and Standards, API RP 1177 was developed by the individuals that will be using the document the most, those that own, operate, and construct pipelines. Plus, external stakeholders, such as the public and the regulators, were engaged, ensuring all groups involved in pipeline safety have an opportunity to shape the final guidance.

    Guiding Principles

    A QMS must have certain requirements to be effective.

    • Defined project quality objectives and personnel accountabilities;
    • Processes to establish and maintain the appropriate project organizational structure;
    • Processes to establish and maintain the appropriate training and qualification of internal and contracted personnel;
    • Processes to facilitate and verify quality throughout project design, contracting, procurement, manufacturing, fabrication, and construction;
    • Processes to prevent, detect, mitigate, and eliminate potential and actual non-conformances with project procedures, specifications, and referenced standards or non-compliances with regulations, as well as verification and documentation of actions taken and the outcome;
    • Assessment of the achievement of quality objectives throughout the construction project; and
    • Methods to measure each process’s effectiveness and enact continuous improvement of the QMS.

    Similar to API RP 1173, the QMS detailed in API RP 1177 can be stand-alone or integrated into an organization’s existing system, providing flexibility and scalability, so any size company can implement. In other words, while the QMS elements will apply to each organization, the application of these elements are to be appropriate for the size of the organization, the scope of the project, and the risk to the public and environment. Each pipeline construction project is unique. While typical pipeline construction activities are included in this document, they may not be all-inclusive. Other construction activities may be relevant and must be addressed on a project by project basis, utilizing the principles of this RP. Likewise, it is recognized that the identified construction activities may not be applicable to every pipeline construction project. It is the organization’s responsibility to consider unique quality issues applicable to their projects and address them accordingly through their organization-specific QMS.

    To ensure success of a QMS, the last two guiding principles listed above are applied in a recurring manner and changes to the processes are made. This practice is detailed below in the example Construction QMS adaption of the Plan–Do–Check–Act (PDCA) cycle, which is further explained in API RP 1173:

    QMS graphic