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API 1185: Advancing Stakeholder Engagement Through Two-Way Communication

Pipeline operators, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders in the pipeline industry are currently working on a new Recommended Practice to enable more effective communication about the pipeline industry.

API RP 1185 (Pipeline Public Engagement) is being spearheaded by individuals that include Shawn Lyon, president of Marathon Pipe Line, and Carl Weimer, the Special Projects Advisor of the Pipeline Safety Trust. This is important work to help change the conversation between pipeliners, the public, and concerned entities.

The RP is designed to advance from one-way communication with the public — such as the 811 Call Before You Dig public awareness campaign — to actually dialogue with the public and ensure that the message is received.

We are encouraged that pipeline operators are taking active steps to advance from just pushing information out to the public to actually check whether the messages are received, read, and understood. Through this effort, operators can assess whether they need to adjust their messaging, determine what needs to be changed, and how to interact with the public in a way that fosters a higher level of engagement.

In a recent edition of the Pipeliners Podcast, Shawn Lyon and Carl Weimer discussed the formation of API 1185 and what they hope to accomplish once the RP is finalized and conveyed to the industry.

“We’re seeing the value to make sure it’s an engagement, it’s a relationship, and understanding that relationship isn’t only for today and tomorrow, but it’s for generations to come. If you do that right, together, we can make sure that pipelines are safe and taken care of, and we can respect each other so that all parties win,” Shawn said. “I think that’s what this RP is about. How do we work together for the sake of pipeline safety?”

The safety focus of API RP 1185 fits well into the current landscape of operators implementing Pipeline SMS (API 1173) as the industry strives for zero incidents in pipeline operations.

How API RP 1185 Fits Into the Pipeline SMS Framework

Pipeline SMS includes 10 core elements that are critical to pipeline safety management. One of the core elements is stakeholder engagement.

The new API 1185 aims to use the Pipeline SMS framework to build on stakeholder engagement to support more community involvement and dialogue. It will no longer just be about operators looking for ways to improve pipeline operations and achieve safety objectives in a siloed way. It will be more about ensuring that the public is actively involved in pipeline safety.

This approach is reflected in how the new RP is currently being formulated. The team responsible for crafting the new RP have engaged with equal members of the public, regulators, and the industry to thoughtfully elevate stakeholder engagement.

“We’ve really come up with a balanced team with the three legs of the stool,” Carl Weimer said on the Pipeliners Podcast. “If you look at the expertise around the table, we have tribal members. We have people that deal with environmental justice. We have people that are strong landowners’ rights people, different segments of the industry, and state, federal, and local government all around the table. We have a lot of expertise working on this.”

Once the RP is finalized and released, there will be an opportunity for pipeline operators to take action advancing their commitment to stakeholder engagement and community involvement. This goes back to one of the core elements of Pipeline SMS — leadership and management commitment.

Pipeline operators need to support the importance of elevating stakeholder engagement through two-way communication. This way, operators are not just “checking the box” by pushing out messages or holding meetings about pipeline safety without taking any action. Instead, operators should check to ensure that feedback is tracked, analyzed, and fed back into pipeline operations.

To support this effort, we recommend having the right systems and software in place to deliver messages, track reception, and measure engagement.

Utilize POEMS ProgramMgr to Support Stakeholder Engagement

Within POEMS™ Program Suite is the ProgramMgr software module that enables operators to optimize stakeholder communication. The software can be configured to align with your operational characteristics to help determine whether you are seeing the desired safety and operational impacts from advancing stakeholder engagement.

Operators can also utilize our software module to implement the full Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle as part of your Pipeline SMS program. This is important to ensure that you are optimizing the Check piece of the PDCA cycle to actually track and measure engagement with stakeholders.

Utilizing our software, your operation will be better equipped to achieve these objectives:

  • Document what you have said and what your stakeholders know.
  • Capture suggestions and build feedback loops (two-way communication).
  • Perform safety observations and reporting of events.
  • Provide direction for continuous improvement.

When an operator’s Pipeline Safety Management System is linked with our ProgramMgr software tools, then the Check aspect of PSMS can be fully optimized to track program performance, measure effectiveness, and improve communication.

We invite you to schedule a demo of ProgramMgr. We will show you how our software will enable your operation to align with the forthcoming API 1185. This way, you can achieve a higher level of stakeholder engagement to satisfy your safety objectives.