Emergency Response

Key Takeaways

  • Pipeline operators regularly conduct training and exercises to ensure they are prepared to respond if needed
  • The oil and natural gas industry works closely with government agencies through drills for seamless coordination during an emergency
  • The pipeline industry provides free trainings for first responders and emergency officials so they are informed and prepared in the event of an emergency

How do pipeline operators prepare for emergencies?

Pipeline incidents, while rare, do still happen. Pipeline operators prepare for the unlikely event of an incident through the use of control room technologies and training to stop the flow of a pipeline quickly upon a release. 

Operators also develop regulatorily mandated emergency response plans, deploy resources, and work closely with local first responders to reduce the impacts of any release. For more information on how companies respond to incidents, we encourage you to find out here.

Pipeline operators reduced the number of liquids pipeline incidents impacting people or the environment by 16% from 2018 to 2022.

Training and Coordination with First Responders

Successfully dealing with a pipeline incident requires information sharing and practicing response procedures in advance. Pipeline operators conduct tabletop drills and live “on site” drills with local first responders such as fire departments, law enforcement, and emergency management organizations.

Operators conduct exercises and drills in coordination with first responders.

These training exercises are used to establish a clear understanding of the manpower and resources each group will bring to a potential incident, assign roles for each group, and establish a decision-making process that ensures any necessary response is safe, coordinated, and efficient.

During drills, operators and first responders come to a designated area to walk through a “live incident.” Operators share pipeline locations, maps, potential hazards, and products traveling through the line so that everyone involved is informed and prepared in the event of an incident.

Pipeline operators also provide free online training courses and resources to help first responders prepare for responding to an incident. Additionally, the industry recently developed a field operations guide in coordination with state fire marshals that contains a set of operational tools and references to assist in the preparedness and initial response to a pipeline response of CO2. Operators participate in the National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) within FEMA to coordinate with government partners to prevent, mitigate, and respond to incidents.