Background information and current status:
Accidents on international pipelines endanger human lives and the environment, cause serious revenue losses and generate a climate of public hostility towards pipelines. Meanwhile, if designed, constructed and maintained according to the proper norms and standards, pipelines can be one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly means of energy transportation and distribution.
A sectoral initiative aimed at developing a common regulatory basis in this sector was formally proposed in 2007. At the request of the Working Party (see para. 62 of the report of the 2008 session) a questionnaire has been developed by the interested delegations. The questionnaire was answered by Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan and Turkey. The purpose of the questionnaire is to document existing regulatory practices in this field. The questionnaire and compiled answers were discussed by the Bureau of the Working Party (see para. 5 of the report) and have been presented to the WP. 6 19th session.
If officially launched, the initiative will be based on Recommendation L and will identify best regulatory practices in technical regulations concerning project design, construction, testing, use of materials, operation, maintenance, conservation and utilization of pipelines for oil and gas industry products. The initiative could capitalize on: (a) an advanced set of 177 international standards already developed by the Technical Committee 67 (TC67) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to address specific technical issues related to pipeline safety; and (b) the UNECE expertise in administering the 1992 Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, which resulted inter alia in the formulation of Safety Guidelines and Good Practices for Pipelines for the Prevention of Accidental Water Pollution.
The key points of this initiative, highlighted in particular by the Russian Federation's Service on Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision, are the need to coordinate mandatory requirements for industrial and ecological safety, and to harmonize national approaches to safety regulations.
All interested parties are encouraged to contact Working Party 6 at Regulatory.Cooperation@unece.org if they wish to join the preparatory work for this initiative or receive further information or updates on its progress.