The highest priority for every energy pipeline company is protecting the public, the environment, and its employees from harm. Throughout the global pandemic, pipelines deliver gas, oil, and other fuels people need. These companies follow all the safety advice from health care authorities and government officials, and they have taken extra steps to keep their employees safe.
Standard protocols that keep pipelines safe remain the same. For example, practices for managing flood emergencies include monitoring water crossings closely. Operators assess different threshold levels and apply the required measures for each water level. They use these protocols to adapt approaches and prevent emergencies, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to change some aspects of how they manage emergencies.
Here are three changes to how pipeline companies prepare, practice, and make sure they are ready to respond to seasonal emergencies.
- Virtual Training
All pipeline companies have wide-ranging emergency response plans for seasonal emergencies, including wildfires and flooding. Pipeline companies test these plans often, using realistic emergency simulations that help them learn and improve. Tests typically happen in face-to-face sessions, but because of new guidance that limits gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have turned to conducting emergency response exercises remotely.
- Involving External Partners
Emergency response exercises may include several external partners, such as first responders and regulators. With the change in approach during the pandemic lockdown, companies have had to take steps to involve those partners in virtual exercises.
- State of Readiness
Companies are now more prepared to manage seasonal emergencies during the pandemic. They have established a virtual incident command post and emergency operations center, which allow people to gather quickly and can make for even faster response times. Other tools include a dedicated conference line and processes to upload data immediately and communicate with one other efficiently. Their response teams can also access incident management systems remotely to manage the emergency.
American pipeline companies continue to monitor updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing so helps them keep essential services employees safe and available for regular operations and all types of seasonal emergencies.