A little over three years ago the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), the agency responsible for the regulation of pipeline safety at the federal level, was directed by the Congress to take deliberate steps to strengthen the regulatory framework, oversight of the nation’s pipeline network, and the technical basis on which pipeline integrity rests. The steps OPS has taken include (a) bolstering existing regulations, (b) creating new management-based and performance-based regulations designed to focus resources on areas where the consequences of failures could be the greatest, and (c) undertaking research and development to support improvement of pipeline safety and integrity. OPS has responded to this direction on many fronts, including by aggressively working with other federal agencies, state and local governments, industry partners and academia, to initiate a broad range of cost-shared research, development and demonstration projects to make pipelines safer. This cooperative effort is designed to attain the fundamental goal of improving pipeline safety performance, thereby contributing to building public confidence in the safety of the nation’s pipelines. This paper describes the OPS strategy and the research, development and demonstration program that has recently been undertaken to implement that strategy.

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