At Equitrans, we believe that a successful safety culture underpins a successful business, and we demonstrate our commitment to safety every day by actively pursuing a safe and healthy workplace for our employees and contractors. In turn, we are better able to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and create a positive work environment. Our approach to safety involves communicating our expectations and providing the necessary tools and training to be safe and successful. By advancing our proactive occupational health and safety initiatives, Equitrans is creating a positive workplace culture that supports our goal of zero workplace incidents — staying focused to ensure everyone will return home safely at the end of their workday.
Safety — Above All Else
Management of material topics
Occupational health and safety management system
Hazard identification, risk assessment, and incident investigation
Occupational health services
Worker participation, consultation, and communication on occupational health and safety
Worker training on occupational health and safety
Promotion of worker health
Prevention and mitigation of occupational health and safety impacts directly linked by business relationships
Workers covered by an occupational health and safety management system
Work-related ill health
New suppliers that were screened using social criteria
Negative social impacts in the supply chain and actions taken
Discussion of management systems used to integrate a culture of safety and emergency preparedness throughout the value chain and throughout project lifecycles
Our health and safety approach is simple — we are committed to the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors, and the communities in which we operate. Safety is our top priority, and we strive to achieve zero workplace incidents by prioritizing health and safety in everything we do. From the way we design our facilities to the way we educate and train our employees and contractors, health and safety is always our first and foremost objective.
Equitrans strives to conduct business operations in accordance with all applicable health and safety requirements, as established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other regulatory bodies, as well as relevant industry best practices. Regulatory compliance is the first layer of our safety practices but is by no means our only safety focus.
All Equitrans employees are held accountable for following safety procedures, and employees and contractors are encouraged to demonstrate proactive safety leadership. Employees are empowered to identify risks and hazards and provide resolution strategies to minimize the potential for incidents throughout our organization. We have a comprehensive Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) Policy, to which all employees and vendors must adhere. We also heavily invest in training for our employees regarding health and safety procedures, offering both online and in-person sessions to ensure all of our employees have the opportunity to participate. It is essential for our employees to be well-informed on how to stay safe while working.
Through our safety orientation and annual safety summit, Equitrans also maintains a robust contractor safety program, designed to ensure that everyone working on our behalf understands and follows our health and safety policies. Additionally, we require all affiliated Equitrans partners to have stringent safety programs in place that meet our policy standards.
As part of our commitment, health and wellness are also essential areas of focus areas Equitrans — helping employees to maintain a work-life balance, stay productive, and be happy at work. By promoting wellness and mental health, employees remain healthy and engaged, which benefits the Company as a whole. Equitrans is committed to promoting wellness and mental health in the workplace and offers a variety of programs to support this goal.
We manage safety and environmental stewardship at Equitrans through our Zero Is Possible — Today (ZIP Today) platform, driven by our HSE team with oversight by the Board’s Health, Safety, Sustainability, and Environmental (HSSE) Committee. ZIP Today is the manifestation of our overriding belief that success is only realized when every contributor is safe and unharmed, and when we consistently strive for environmental excellence. As we continue to build a robust safety and environmental stewardship culture, it is important that our employees and contractors remember that their safety takes precedence above all else, a belief that ZIP Today helps to foster.
Since 2018, our commitment to the ZIP Today platform has been transformed into a way of life at Equitrans. Three safety subcommittees within our HSE team — representing operations, construction, and office employees — developed an enhanced “way-of-life mentality” that is exhibited throughout our operations. In line with our corporate safety objectives, each committee developed and tailored safety target assignments for implementation across their respective areas. The basis for the transformation was our Incident with Serious Potential (ISP) concept, a risk-based system focused on precursors of incidents, near-misses, and observations. Identifying precursors enables us to build safety practices that help prevent accidents from occurring. In accordance with ZIP Today, it is also important that our contractors share our enthusiasm, philosophy, and “way-of-life mentality” toward safety and environmental excellence. Equitrans offers contractor awards to individuals, crews, and companies demonstrating exceptional safety and environmental performance.
Equitrans requires all employees to receive training on hazard and potential hazard identification in relation to their specific job requirements — and managers work with employees to keep safety a top priority and mitigate potential hazards.
When two or more field employees are working together, they are required to complete a comprehensive tailgate safety meeting (TSM) prior to starting the task. During TSMs, the team discusses job requirements for the day and any potential hazards that may arise from crews or personnel working in proximity to each other. After the meeting, relevant employees and contractors deploy to identify potential hazards, discuss safety control measures, and mitigate any hazards found prior to starting work. If a hazard is found, employees and contractors must notify supervisors to discuss how to best resolve the hazard. Additionally, all employees and contractors have the responsibility to exercise their stop work authority, an important protocol that reinforces the importance of keeping safety top-of-mind during all activities.
Equitrans developed our Standard Operating Procedures based on the concept of creating a world-class safety culture. These procedures explain the actions required to assess risks and perform a job safely and correctly. In addition, our Engineering Department designs our systems and facilities to meet or exceed applicable regulatory guidelines. We also implemented a design review process that involves several departments and employees who collectively review facility layouts and designs to mitigate potential risks and ensure safety. Together with our Safety and Engineering Departments, Equitrans’ Pipeline Integrity and Environmental Departments are fully integrated into our safety culture and risk assessment processes.
For every safety-related incident or observation that transpires, regardless of whether an injury occurred, we carry out a comprehensive incident investigation — the results of which help us to learn and improve. Our investigation process starts with the root cause and what precursors may have led to the incident’s occurrence. The front-line supervisor leads the investigation, with assistance from the HSE team, and includes experts familiar with the event and its circumstances. Next, we evaluate and identify solutions to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. This process may involve multiple departments within Equitrans, as the corrective actions identified may encompass multiple functions within the work processes. For each incident in which an injury does occur, we record the nature of the incident, as prescribed by the OSHA Injury/Illness Recordkeeping Guidelines. This record serves as another source of information for our incident investigations. We actively communicate each incident or observation across Equitrans and, more importantly, share the identified corrective actions as a method of education. Safety bulletins, alerts, and training materials are often available to supplement this communication.
Safety Education and Training
Having informed, proactive employees is key to Equitrans’ safety culture. To achieve zero incidents, we depend on our employees to identify risks and take action to mitigate hazards, in addition to other health and safety protocols. We place a high value on safety training and education, and we are dedicated to providing our workers with the tools they require to do their jobs safely and effectively. Our health and safety approach is designed to empower workers to take control of their own safety, and we are committed to creating a safe and healthy work environment for everyone. In 2021, Equitrans employees completed 4,990 hours of safety education and training.
Upon hiring, every employee participates in Equitrans’ New Hire Orientation Program, which includes information on our safety culture, and receives an in-depth safety orientation upon arrival at their work location. Employees attend core safety training annually, as well as monthly training related to OSHA- and Equitrans-specific education tailored to an employee’s applicable work responsibilities. Examples of these tailored trainings include: how to investigate incidents, safe driving practices, and how to recognize and control hazards. Employees are required to complete Equitrans-specific Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Operator Qualification (OQ) training specific to their job responsibilities, in addition to extensive on-the-job training from their supervisors and peers. Additionally, the E-Train home/office safety committee provides monthly safety tips to employees via postings to our Company intranet and through our monthly HSE ZIP memo — reinforcing specific safety guidance and reminding employees that Zero Is Possible, anytime, anywhere.
Equitrans also has specific safety education expectations for our contractors. Prior to starting work on any Equitrans site, all contractors and suppliers are required to review our contractor safety orientation video, which complements our overall safety practices, processes, and procedures and refreshes contractors on Equitrans’ many safety practices, including hazard identification, risk management, and the process for mitigating potential site hazards. Additionally, contractors are required to attend a kick-off meeting prior to work that establishes our expectations and defines roles and responsibilities, the project’s emergency action plan, and any potential hazards that may be present at the job site.
Our Proactive Approach to Employee Safety
Equitrans diligently tracks numerous safety-related metrics to evaluate our safety performance. In February 2021, Equitrans formally launched the Intelex app, our health, safety, and quality management software application used to track our safety data. Intelex was deployed to the phones and mobile devices for all of our employees, providing an easily accessible and effortless method to record our Equitrans-specific, proactive metrics, which include:
Incident with Serious Potential (ISP), which includes events or situations where a behavior or activity may have the potential to cause serious injury or significant property damage
Observation with Serious Potential (OSP), which includes observations of behaviors, actions or situations that, if allowed to continue, have the potential to cause serious injury or significant property damage
Corrected Safety Opportunity (CSO), which reflect non-serious hazard reports, deficient procedures or processes, or improvement suggestions that have been corrected and incorporated into our business and operations
The CSO metric encourages employees to report all safety observations and opportunities for improvement to help increase safety awareness across Equitrans.
As a result of our collective ISP, OSP, and CSO efforts, and with the launch of the Intelex app, we received approximately 852 safety observations in 2021, which is more than four times the number of observations we received and recorded in 2020. This significant increase resulted in opportunities for Equitrans to reduce risk and enhance the safety of our work environment. By increasing our employees’ safety engagement, we are ultimately strengthening Equitrans’ safety culture and advancing best practices. Moreover, the increase in participation by both our field operations and office-based employees represents a fundamental shift in ownership — meaning that safety is everyone’s responsibility, not only that of the Company’s safety department.
Internal safety metrics are incorporated into Equitrans’ Short-Term Incentive Plan (STIP), which aligns employee interests with those of our shareholders and the strategic objectives of our Company. By tracking and evaluating annual safety metrics, and linking them to compensation, we can more effectively address any safety issues that may arise, increase the safety of our worksites and offices, identify opportunities for improvement, and enhance and further embed our overall safety culture.
Employee Safety Performance
Total Recordable Incident Rate1
0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0
Lost Time Incident Rate1
0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0
1) Includes information for 100% of the Eureka Midstream assets; excludes MVP, MVP Southgate, and OVCX projects
For 2021, Equitrans’ year-over-year data shows an increase in our Total Recordable Incident Rate, primarily due to an increase in slip, trip, and fall incidents. The majority of these incidents were associated with muddy or ice-covered surfaces and the exiting of mobile equipment. Recognizing that improving safety procedures and protocols is a continuous improvement process, we worked diligently to identify potential root causes and provide training and awareness education regarding corrective actions.
Safety At Home
Equitrans was diligent about protecting its employees' health and safety throughout the pandemic. Our “office safety committee” quickly reimagined their objectives and was re-established as the “home/office safety committee.” The committee consists of employees from different functions across the organization who work to provide important safety tips and reminders for those working in the office or remotely. They also encourage the importance of safety at home, reminding employees that their focus on safety should not stop at the end of their workday — being safe at home or during recreational activities is just as important.
With the implementation of Equitrans workplace personas, a large number of employees are now working remotely on a full- or part-time basis. To promote safe behaviors and activities for our remote workers, the committee created telework checklists; presentations on home office ergonomics; and mental health awareness reminders to ensure safety remained top-of-mind while working remotely.
The safety and well-being of our contractors, both in the field and in the office, is tremendously important. By focusing on contractor safety, we help foster a safer and more efficient work environment while also strengthening our contractor relationships. We hold our contractors to the same standards as our employees to ensure that our job sites and the people working at them stay safe. To do this, every company that provides contractors for our projects must hold our steadfast commitment to safety. We expect all contractors, including their subcontractors and agents, to adhere to all applicable U.S. laws and regulatory requirements related to health, safety, and employment, as well as to Equitrans’ Safety Management System, Company policies, and best practices. In 2020, we introduced our contractors to Equitrans’ ISP program. During the past two years, our contractors have continued to embrace this concept, resulting in significant decreases in our contractors’ Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) rates.
Before a contractor can begin working on any Equitrans project, they must first comply with all requirements of their Master Construction Services Agreement (MCSA) and be authorized by our supply chain team. The MCSA requires contractors to comply with all Company-specific health and safety standards, as well as any applicable site-specific safety plans, including any Company-published contractor safety protocols that may be provided.
Our HSE team evaluates a contractor’s safety record to ensure its alignment with Equitrans’ safety focus by using the ISNetworld database, an industry-recognized platform for the monitoring and evaluation of contractor safety performance and documentation. Our HSE team utilizes the ISNetworld database to evaluate all contractors in the following areas:
Safety Management Systems
Injury and Illness Statistics
Written Safety Programs and Safety Training
Experience Modification Rating
Additionally, we fully integrate ZIP Today into ISNetworld criteria by requiring contractors to maintain a proactive safety culture focused on ISP precursors. This addition of ISPs into our reporting system is aimed at increasing contractor accountability and safety awareness, which aligns with our culture of safety — above all else.
Equitrans’ Contractor Safe Work Rules outline our contractor qualifications and management regarding health and safety. All affiliated Equitrans contractors must undergo an ISNetworld rating, which is continuously reviewed and updated throughout the year. Contractors with a rating greater than ‘C’ are permitted to work on Equitrans job sites and facilities. If a contractor has a rating of ‘C’ or below, the contractor has 90 days to improve their rating to an ‘A’ or ‘B’ or submit an Improvement Plan. The Improvement Plan is based on deficiencies identified in their ISNetworld rating. If a rating is not improved to an ‘A’ or ‘B’ or an Improvement Plan is not submitted within 90 days, they are no longer permitted to work on any Equitrans job site or facility.
Contractors are also required to complete a federal Operational Qualification (OQ) plan. The OQ plan establishes qualification requirements for contractors performing work for our operations.
Evaluating Our Safety Performance
Equitrans has witnessed a substantial change in our employees’ and contractors’ attitudes regarding safety. The introduction of the Intelex app resulted in significantly improved safety observations, which, in turn, resulted in a reduction in ISPs and an increase in general safety awareness. Our health and safety approach is just one way we demonstrate our Core Values and seek to protect our most important asset — our people. It is critical that we continually evaluate our safety performance so we can identify what we are doing well, what we can improve, and most importantly, where we are able to develop strategies to keep our employees and contractors safe. Accordingly, we continuously strive for improvement by evaluating and reviewing our policies and standard operating procedures.
As part of our Enterprise Risk Management Process, we utilize a third-party consultant to annually audit our safety program and related procedures, and recommend corrective actions based on our identified safety risks. In addition, we empower our employees to provide feedback on issues regarding occupational health and safety and the development of management methods, including recommendations on safety policies and standard operating procedures based on their own work experiences. If an incident or observation does occur, we utilize our investigation process to identify the root cause. Our policies and procedures are then amended, and educational training is provided to our workforce based on the discoveries. Employees also engage in safety audits and assessments where they provide insight based upon their first-hand knowledge of our operations. To read more about our health and safety culture, please visit the sustainability webpages on our corporate website.
Year-Over-Year Safety Metrics Summary1
Total Hours Worked
Work-Related Total Mileage
Preventable Vehicle Accidents (PVAs)
Total Recordable Incident Rate (OSHA Recordables Rate)
Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART)
Incidents With Serious Potential for Injury (ISPs)
Recordable Work-Related Injuries
Work-Related Ill Health Fatalities
Recordable Cases of Work-Related Ill Health
Lost Time Incident Rate
1) Includes information for 100% of the Eureka Midstream assets; excludes MVP, MVP Southgate, and OVCX projects
2) In 2019, all safety observations were reported as “near misses” and our Intelex app now classifies near misses and observations separately, therefore, our 2019 totals for near misses have been restated
In 2021, we achieved fewer ISPs, near misses, and preventable vehicle accidents (PVAs) compared to previous years. We believe these improvements are the result of our commitment to continue enhancing and elevating our safety culture through proactive efforts, such as our ZIP Today platform; Companywide use of the Intelex app for reporting ISPs, OSPs, and CSOs; special initiatives such as our Distracted Driving Awareness campaign; and monthly HSE memos for all employees that report our progress and keep safety top-of-mind. Equitrans is proud that the health and safety measures we have implemented continue to result in positive impacts to our overall safety culture and performance.
Philanthropy and Volunteerism
Equitrans Midstream supports the development of a sustainable workforce, which we believe is a key element for the long-term success of our Company and our communities. Preparing local students to compete in the workforce is a funding priority of the Equitrans Midstream Foundation — connecting students now with the tools they need to make positive social and economic contributions in the future. Through our E-Train On-Track committee, we also support employee volunteerism and encourage employees to donate their time in support of community-based educational initiatives.
The Education Partnership is a local non-profit organization that distributes school and classroom supplies at no cost to students and teachers in need. When the organization approached us with an opportunity to provide assistance and support for Pennsylvania schools, ranging from pre-K through grade 12, we enthusiastically volunteered both our funding and time. In 2021, through a $32,000 grant to The Education Partnership’s Adopt-a-School program, the Equitrans Midstream Foundation purchased essential school supplies for students in three southwestern Pennsylvania schools. Using our Volunteer Paid-Time-Off Program, these funds were amplified by Equitrans employees who volunteered their time to assemble more than 1,230 Power Tools Homework Kits for distribution to the students. A team of employees then attended assemblies at one of the participating high schools to conduct mini-educational sessions to discuss jobs and careers in the energy industry.
During the past two years, the Foundation has awarded $50,000 to The Education Partnership. By combining proposed funding opportunities with employee volunteerism, Equitrans can provide a greater level of community support, while at the same time encouraging employee involvement and increasing overall engagement. Our work with The Education Partnership is one example of Equitrans’ commitment to the communities in which we live and work — delivering positive impacts through both financial support and employee volunteerism.
Culture Change Belongs to All of Us
Our goal is to create a workforce culture that is not only aligned with our values, but also inspires employees to be their best selves. Based on the findings of our initial culture assessment conducted in 2020, we implemented several culture enhancing initiatives that were aligned with our mission, vision, and strategy — including redesigning our employee recognition program, introducing 360-degree management assessments and coaching, and launching an on-demand learning platform.
In 2021, we conducted our second culture survey, which had a 78% participation rate and highlighted significant, double-digit percentile increases across all 48 culture survey questions. In conjunction with our Culture Champions Group, we attribute these culture score improvements to the many action items we implemented since conducting our previous assessment.
The survey platform we utilize measures organizations across four areas: Mission, Consistency, Involvement, and Adaptability. While we were encouraged by the results, we also recognize there are areas that require continued focus to improve our culture. Below are a few key highlights from our recent survey:
Leveraging Our Strengths
We are very strong in the areas of teamwork and agreement — illustrating strong coordination across departments, the elimination of silos, and alignment with our Core Values, which highlights a strong sense of right and wrong.
We had positive shifts in how we use our Core Values to guide our decisions & the perceptions of leaders who demonstrate these values.
We scored near the 95th percentile on most of the safety aspects, something we are very proud of as we continue to elevate our strong safety culture.
Based on the opportunities for improvement, we are implementing several action items that are linked to three primary focus areas:
Customer Focus: The best way to define Customer Focus is with a question — “When we get a request from a fellow employee, do we treat that request as if it came from a customer?” The success of our Company depends on all employees — from maintaining safe operations, ensuring system reliability, and designing system enhancements to closing our books, scheduling projects, running payroll, and managing our legal and regulatory concerns. As we strive to be a reliable partner inside and out, in 2022 we added customer service to our Core Value of Collaboration; and we are implementing initiatives to improve our internal customer service and ensure the timely exchange of information requests.
Strategic Direction & Intent: Employees understand the importance of connecting the dots between our strategy and their day-to-day work. Based on survey feedback, we will continue to publish our quarterly Strategic Priorities Update and schedule all-employee meetings to communicate progress on our Company’s annual priorities and objectives, which helps employees to align their individual objectives. Achieving our Company goals takes teamwork, collaboration, and individual contributions by everyone.
Capability Development: As people leaders, we want to take a more active role in the development of our employees, helping them to understand and explore opportunities for advancement. To support our managers, we rolled out training during 2022 to assist managers in having effective career conversations with employees, encouraging an open dialogue on opportunities for growth and skill development. We also updated our Core Value of Excellence to include employee capability development — reinforcing the importance of helping to improve the capabilities of our employees as a competitive advantage.
At Equitrans, culture change belongs to all of us, and each employee plays a vital role in achieving our vision of becoming the premier midstream company in North America. Our employees’ continued commitment to E-Train’s success is demonstrated by staying the course — effectively managing our business and running our operations safely, efficiently, and responsibly.
Recognizing the potential benefits of a flexible work model, Equitrans conducted a workplace modernization survey in June 2020, whereby office-based employees were asked to rank their workplace preferences based on a set of three “workplace personas” (anchor, flex, and remote). The next step in the process was for managers to review all positions in their departments and assign a workplace persona, or personas, to each position, based on the defined requirements of role. The final step was for employees to select their workplace persona based on the persona(s) assigned to their role.
Our workplace modernization activities, however, did not end there. As we and other companies prepared for the new normal of a larger remote workforce, E-Train recognized there would be concerns to address and conflicts to resolve — and our goal was to ensure a smooth transition as overall workplace plans were finalized. To replace our previous Telecommuting Policy, we implemented a new Workplace Modernization Policy, which includes topics such as workplace persona guidelines, relocation approval process, business travel expense protocol, and how to formally request a workplace persona assignment change.
Additionally, to assist our employees with changes related to our return-to-office (RTO), we communicated workspace scheduling information and general tax expectations (for remote employees), and created two RTO Guides:
The RTO Guide for Managers was intended to help managers prepare for working with their teams in the new era of a “distributed environment.” The guide contains key details for managing successfully in a distributed environment, including tips for utilizing shared workspaces; how to determine when it may be most effective for a manager and their team to work in the office; and how a manager can partner with their team to establish best practices and facilitate a collaborative and engaging working environment — ensuring continued performance in line with our Core Value of Excellence. Managers were asked to maintain an inclusive, forward-thinking environment that values the person as a whole instead of focusing on only the work that they produce and were reminded to always place safety first.
The RTO Guide for Employees contained FAQs about workplace personas; tips and recommended etiquette for working in a shared workspace; how to determine when it may be most effective to work in the office; best practices to ensure success; and the importance of keeping safety our top priority.
With the reopening of our offices in April 2022, roughly 61% of office-based employees are working remotely (remote persona), 37% split their time between remote and at an Equitrans location (flex persona), and 2% are working in the office full-time (anchor persona). We expect our workplace modernization model to improve employee satisfaction and retention, expand our talent pool, and create additional flexibility for our employees, while promoting continued business execution.
Distracted Driving Awareness
Distracted driving is an important safety issue — whether we are traveling for work or transporting friends and family during our personal time. The tragic results of distracted driving can happen to any one of us, anywhere, and at any time. Furthermore, these distractions come in many forms and can be caused by a number of factors, such as driving while using a communications device, tending to others who are in the vehicle, using your vehicle’s audio system, or simply observing scenery as we pass it on the road.
In response to an increase in preventable vehicle accidents in 2020, Equitrans’ safety team created a Safe Driving Stand-Up, whereby supervisors were tasked with encouraging their teams to focus on changing their driving behaviors to better ensure everyone’s safety. In 2021, we placed additional emphasis on vehicle driving safety through our Companywide Distracted Driving Awarenessinitiative, which included encouraging employees to sign a distracted driving pledge as a symbol of their commitment to drive safely, be in the moment, and remain focused on the task-at-hand.
With more than 500 employees in attendance, Equitrans’ Distracted Driving Awareness campaign kicked off with a presentation by Joel Feldman, renowned distracted driver speaker. Mr. Feldman is an attorney from Philadelphia who, despite representing those impacted by distracted driving crashes, frequently drove distracted himself. Following the death of his daughter in an accident caused by a distracted driver, he changed the way he drives and the way he thinks about driving safety. In 2011, he founded EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving) and spends the majority of his professional time working to educate people about this issue — with the goal to reduce distracted driving incidents of all kinds.
Mr. Feldman shared some very powerful and personal messaging, along with several important reminders that focused on how to change driving behaviors to better ensure one’s personal safety, the safety of their passengers, as well as the safety of everyone on the road. In addition, the Equitrans Midstream Foundation expanded these important safe driving messages by partnering with EndDD to bring Mr. Feldman’s presentation to four local high schools in our Pennsylvania operating area.
In 2022, our Foundation is pleased to continue its partnership with EndDD by supporting the creation of a nationwide public service campaign geared toward preventing distracted driving among high school students.
Equitrans believes that having a safe-driving mindset should extend beyond the workplace, and we want our employees to be equipped to prevent distractions while driving for both work and personal travel. With safety as our top priority and number one Core Value, the more we share the importance of learning how to NOT DRIVE DISTRACTED, the safer all of us will be.
Protecting Our Critical Energy Infrastructure
With cyber-attacks on the rise in nearly every industry sector, including those related to oil/gas pipelines, there is a heightened need for teamwork and collaboration to protect our nation’s energy infrastructure. We recognize the important joint efforts of pipeline operators, government agencies, vendors, and industry groups in developing solutions to combat the complex challenges of an ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. The formation of this alliance is based on a common goal: keeping our critical infrastructure safe, secure, and reliable.
To ensure adequate resources and elevate the criticality of our industry’s cyber initiatives, Chief Executive Officers and Chief Information Officers from our nation’s major pipeline operators, as well as top leaders from various government agencies are aligned on this priority. In addition, with this level of attention and focus on cybersecurity, responsibility has gone beyond Information Technology personnel. To be truly effective, cybersecurity requires multi-disciplinary leadership involvement from other business functions, such as physical security, emergency management, facilities, legal, and supply chain.
As a natural gas pipeline operator, Equitrans Midstream transports roughly 10% of U.S. natural gas production every day, making it critical for us to know and understand the latest threat intelligence. With the knowledge gained through these industry and government relationships, we are better prepared to implement leading practices designed to counter evolving attack vectors.
“At Equitrans Midstream, we believe forming a cybersecurity partnership has helped raise the security bar across the industry, resulting in a collective benefit that is beyond what any individual pipeline operator could achieve. By working together on cybersecurity initiatives, we are striving to make the natural gas pipeline sector more secure, while at the same time continuing to provide the critical energy resources on which our nation relies.”
– Carmine Fantini, CIO, Equitrans Midstream
The continued evolution of cybersecurity threats demands a holistic response from industry, government, and suppliers. Equitrans recognizes this reality, and we work diligently every day to enhance our strong public/private sector alliance — strengthening our capabilities to protect our critical energy infrastructure.
Emergency Response and Preparedness
In August 2021, flammable vapors from a tank vent ignited during a late afternoon electrical storm at the Equitrans Twilight Compressor Station, a natural gas gathering facility located in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Upon notification of the incident, the Equitrans crisis team quickly convened — no injuries were reported, and no significant damage occurred.
As part of our response, Equitrans technicians were immediately dispatched and, once on site, began to implement necessary safety procedures, including the closing of appropriate valves to isolate the tank. In addition, the local volunteer fire department was on site to assist with appropriate fire safety protocols.
Equitrans’ emergency procedures and closing of valves successfully allowed the flame to self-extinguish, and within a short time the tank was fully isolated. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was notified, and, as a courtesy, local township officials and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission received notification of the incident.
Working together with the crisis team, our operations, safety, and compliance teams determined that the ignition occurred as a result of a lightning strike that ignited vapors from a malfunctioning tank vent. After reviewing and understanding the cause of the incident, operations worked with engineering to identify and inspect similar tank vents, as well as tank grounding, to minimize the risk of similar incidents from occurring in the future.
To fulfill specific regulatory obligations by government agencies, Equitrans conducts annual audits and inspections required by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and respective state agencies that oversee pipelines and related facilities. To reinforce the importance of public safety, in recent years PHMSA has conducted focused audits on Storage Integrity Management programs. These very intense, detailed audits emphasize both public safety and the environmental impacts of storage methane release. Among other benefits to the industry, this level of scrutiny provides an opportunity for natural gas pipeline operators to review, improve, and strengthen their programs.
Under PHMSA’s direction, Equitrans conducted numerous storage audits from 2018 through 2021 to gauge the strength of our Storage Integrity Management Plan (SIMP) and its adherence to published code. While there were no penalties assessed as a result of these audit activities, Equitrans did receive varying degrees of citations (i.e., Letters of Concern, Warning Letters, and Notices of Amendment) that required us to update our plans, policies, and procedures to enhance our SIMP.
In addition to addressing all cited deficiencies to improve the SIMP, Equitrans instituted the following enhancements to its storage operations:
Mitigation of risk by increasing the frequency of well-surveillance logging to every seven years, versus the previous schedule of every 15 years
Utilization of Remote Terminal Units on storage wells for 24-hour monitoring by gas control
Development and implementation of storage-specific procedures to standardize storage maintenance and operations activities across the Company
Dedicating personnel trained specifically for storage operations
As with all of Equitrans’ pipeline integrity programs, our primary focus is on safety — above all else — for our communities, employees, and pipeline facilities. The continued and enhanced safe operation of our storage assets is merely an extension of Equitrans’ overall commitment to safety.