Canadian Natural’s Asset Integrity Management System is in place to ensure the safety, compliance and reliability of our pipelines, pressure equipment, tanks, and infrastructure. We own and operate one of the largest inventories of upstream process equipment within Canada; additionally, Canadian Natural Resources International (CNRI) has facilities located in the United Kingdom (UK) and Africa.
We focus on the integrity of our process equipment and structures across all of our operations as an integral part of ensuring safety company-wide. Maintaining the integrity of our process equipment means preventing and minimizing spills, and loss of pressure containment. We manage our operations in a manner that will evaluate, prevent and mitigate impacts to the integrity of our assets to ensure safe, effective and efficient operations.
Asset Integrity programs are developed by specialized and highly qualified teams that conduct proactive, technical reviews of our equipment and how it is operated. Proactive strategies such as regular risk-based evaluations and inspections and preventive mitigation are fundamental in maintaining reliable process equipment.
Process Safety Management
Canadian Natural has incorporated the Process Safety Management (PSM) framework to provide an integrated and systematic approach to assuring the integrity of our operations at all stages of the equipment lifecycle. Our corporate PSM framework focuses on the prevention and mitigation of, response and recovery from, unplanned hydrocarbon releases that could occur as a result of failures in processes, procedures, or equipment. PSM aligns technical, maintenance, operational, human and organizational aspects of our business to ensure delivery of safe, reliable operations.
The release of hydrocarbons can present a potential risk to personnel, the environment and the facilities we operate. PSM focuses on preventing hydrocarbon releases and it is based on major accident risk management. The trend in hydrocarbon releases from our International Operations in both the UK sector of the North Sea and Offshore Africa continued downwards for the fourth consecutive year. We had 29 per cent fewer hydrocarbon leaks reported in 2013 than in 2012.
The PSM framework is the foundation we are using to develop our Aging and Life Extension (ALE) Program to address new regulatory requirements of the UK Health, Safety and Environment regulatory body. The ALE project will ensure high safety performance standards throughout the life extension phase of our facilities.
In 2013, we carried out 50 per cent more asset integrity system audits than targeted. The audit program included visits to all our North Sea platforms and each of our Offshore Africa operations. These audits are necessary to identify gaps within our Integrity Management System and provide focus areas for improvement. Interventions to correct non-compliances and deviations in system performance are identified, prioritized based on risk, and scheduled and tracked to completion.