In 2016, the Distribution Contractors Association created a task force to investigate whether and how the industry can improve the OQ process and provide more consistency in compliance with operator OQ programs. Recognizing pending adjustments by PHMSA to several provisions of the OQ rule, the task force believed a fresh look at and potential new approaches to OQ will benefit all stakeholders.

Structured Coalition of Industry Leaders

The work of the task force has evolved from a discussion of several OQ-related issues by an ad hoc group of interested stakeholders to a structured and chartered coalition consisting of DCA contractors, OQ service providers, Gas Operators, Regional and National Gas Associations, Industry consulting groups, & subject matter experts who represent various sectors of the Gas Industry from all areas of the nation. Staff from DCA and the American Gas Association also are supporting this effort. This group evolved and built a strong, Industry Coalition on OQ Integrity, establishing high expectations and placing validating measures in place to assure member organizations are performing with “the bar raised higher” than we have often seen in our industry.

The efforts of these members of the OQIP Coalition have created a fundamentally different, yet sound and robust process that creates a standardized approach to deploying all aspects of qualifying, training, testing, and auditing elements associated with OQ. The deliverables of this OQIP process lays out specific expectations and benchmarks for all who choose to strive for OQ excellence, and are willing to be audited and held accountable for operating at a higher level of OQ program effectiveness, auditing, and leading the American Gas Industry in safe, reliable, validating, and credible Pipeline Personnel Qualifications.

The Coalition believes the merits to this OQ Integrity approach will be enjoyed by operators, contractors, and regulators.

Goals

  • Develop and promote a more consistent and standardized OQ process which can derive positive results associated with credibility and validity to the individual.
  • Establish the minimum requirements for a national OQ Integrity Program
  • Improve the OQ process and provide more consistency in compliance with operator OQ programs.
  • Strengthen the requirements needed for OQ, while creating a path to increased integrity, reliability and portability of qualifications issued to the industry’s workforce
  • Validate measures in place to assure member organizations are performing at a higher level.

Possible Benefits:

  • Risk mitigation
  • Regulatory confidence
  • Mutual-aid agreements and response time between operators and contractors
  • Standardized regulatory compliance
  • Addressing challenges to replace aging infrastructure coupled by an aging workforce entering retirement
  • Consistency for regulatory audits
  • Continuous improvements to OQ programs
  • OQ portability

The Current National OQ Integrity Coalition Members Are:

Rob Darden, Executive Vice President, Distribution Contractors Association
Brad Heck, Co-Chair, Director of Corporate Compliance, Miller Pipeline
Troy Nutter, Co-Chair, Manager, Operations Training, Puget Sound Energy
Mike Hickey, Executive Vice President, The Hallen Construction Company
Ben Nelson, President, Michels Pacific Energy, Inc.
Jaeson Osborn, Group Vice President, Primoris Utilities & Distribution
Kevin Parker, Vice President, Safety, Training & Environment, Mears Group, Inc.
Christina Sames, Vice President, Operations & Engineering, American Gas Association
Kofi Woodley, Manager, Operations & Engineering Services, American Gas Association
Mary Palkovich, Vice President, Gas Advocacy, Consumers Energy
John Erickson, Advisor Emeritus, American Public Gas Association
Erin Kurilla, Vice President, Operations & Pipeline Safety, American Public Gas Association
Richard Stump, Member Relations Vice President, MEA Energy Association
Paul Armstrong, Vice President, Training and Qualification Services, Northeast Gas Association

Geoff Isbell, President, ENERGYworldnet, Inc.
Stephanie Balmer, President, Industrial Training Services
Jim Webb, Senior Vice President, eWebOQ
Jason Montoya, Bureau Chief, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission; NAPSR
Sean Mayo, Director, Pipeline Safety, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission; NAPSR
David Chislea, Manager, Operations and Wholesale Markets Division, Michigan PSC, NAPSR
Mike Burkhart, Principal, The Burkhart Group, Chair ASME B31Q
Andrea Martinez, Compliance Project Manager, New Mexico Gas Company
Angela Serrano de Rivera, Director, Engineering & Technical Services, New Mexico Gas Company
Phil Lenn, Director of Technical Services, SEMCO Energy Gas Company
Andrea Chamblin, Manager of Operator Qualification & Training, Kinder Morgan
Warren Miller, Principal, Warren Miller Enterprises
Eben Wyman, Principal, Wyman Associates

OQIP Coalition Members

Coalition-Member-Logos
The OQ Integrity Process is not intended to be the basis of future regulation. While increasing consistency and standardization will result in “raising the bar” by going above and beyond current regulation, this will be achieved by voluntary actions overseen by Process participants.
The OQ Integrity Program is not intended to be the basis of future regulation. While increasing consistency and standardization will result in “raising the bar” by going above and beyond current regulation, this will be achieved by voluntary actions overseen by Program participants.