Standards Update

Here is the latest on what’s happening with the currently active ME-038 standards:

  • AS2885.6:  Part 6 (the new SMS Part, about Safety Management Studies for Pipelines) went to the ME-038 Main Committee last week, for a 2-week review and approval to go to the 9-week Public Comment round.  So, we are expecting/hoping to send Part 6 for Public Comment in early July.  Part 6 encompasses all of the requirements for the SMS process for pipelines in all stages of its design and operation.
  • AS2885.1:  Part 1 (Design and Construction) is currently in between Standards and the Part 1 subcommittee for final drafting and reviews.  It will probably go to the Main Committee in early July, and be out for Public Comment by mid or late July.
  • AS2885.2: Part 2 (Welding) is kicking off another revision, with a first meeting involving Standards, at the end of July.  A number of technical issues are on the agenda for that revision.
  • AS2885.3: Part 3 (Operations and Maintenance) had an official kick-off meeting with Standards’ involvement last week.  Part 3 has been under unofficial review since mid-2016, so we are hoping that the revision timeframe can be somewhat compressed and are still aiming to achieve a draft for Public Comment in 2017.
  • AS2885.0: Part 0 (General requirements) will have an official kick-off meeting in August.  The review and revision of Part 0 is not expected to be very extensive.
  • AS3862 (External FBE Coating) – the amendment has been through Public Comment and will now move into Publication.  Later this year, a full revision of AS 3862 will commence, in order to extend the standard from single layer to multi layer applications.
  • AS4822 (Field Joint Coatings) – AS4822 has been revised and the Draft is in between Standards and the subcommittee for final editing prior to being released for Public Comment, some time in the next few weeks.



Wait, what? … Clarke&Dawe, and… the Finkel Report

(… first, please enjoy a little Clarke and Dawe about the Energy Market)…

It’s very astute:  we don’t have an energy system, we have an energy market.  As per usual, Clarke and Dawe summed it up for us very well and there are a lot of gems in there.

A system is defined as “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.”  A market is “an area or arena in which commercial dealings are conducted.”

Yes.  Very astute.




And then, there’s the Finkel report.  Wait, what?


There’s over 200 pages there, just waiting to be devoured. I’d like it if Clarke were around to interpret it for us.

The media is already mixing it up, conflating job losses due to manufacturers threatening to go out of business due to current perceived high gas prices, conflating that with the goal of the Finkel report, which is a stabilised national energy market (there’s that word again  – not a system, but a market).

Firstly, I’d like to know who in particular is quoting such high prices for gas contracts.  It’s become the stuff of legends around here, old wives tales, and rumour and innuendo.  But ‘everyone’ is saying it, saying “I can’t afford the gas”.  By ‘everyone’, I mean those who are quoted in the media.  Because there’s no story if the responder says, ‘oh yeah, it’s ok, we’ll be ok, it’s about the same as last year, we’re budgeting for it’.  I’m sure the media does their due diligence (don’t they?), to verify and check facts about these quoted pricey gas contracts – hopefully they’ve actually sighted them, and not relied on outraged customers for whom it’s easier just to say, “my new gas contract is, like, double what I paid last year, and I’m outraged”.

And then, following on from that, if it is true, that contract values are doubling and there are these suddenly exorbitant contract agreements, …then what is going on with our gas sellers?  Is this reasonable and essential, to be pricing it that way? Is it profiteering?  I hate to think that.  I need to understand this a bit better.

A true, “wait, …what?” moment is before me, followed closely by “I wonder if…” and then a solid “couldn’t we just…”.


PS a belated Vale John Clarke, who passed away in April.



Five Questions to Ask

Five essential questions to ask often, especially when faced with difficult problems:

1. “Wait, what?” – inquiry over advocacy.

2.”I wonder if…?” or “I wonder why…?” – to always stay curious and not get stuck.

3. “Couldn’t we at least…?” – get past disagreement to consensus.

4. “How can I help?” – enough said.

5. “What truly matters?” – gets to the heart of your conviction

Bonus question:
“And, did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?”


(these are stolen from a 2016 Harvard graduation speech by Dean James Ryan, and good enough to reprint here.  Source links below).

Facebook video


Reminder – AS3862 Public Draft – Closes Tuesday June 13th

Reminder that AS 3862 External fusion-bonded epoxy coating for steel pipes is currently out for public comment, closing on Tuesday June 13th, 2017.

Here’s the link to the commenting site at Standards Australia – search for 3862.

It’s a revised text amendment, meaning that the changes are minor text corrections and not a full technical revision.  Some of the revisions are, for example:

  • Clause 4.1 Item (d), second line, delete the text ‘1 m of pipe length’ and replace with ‘1 per metre of pipe length’.
  • Clause 5.3.3 Sixth paragraph, second line, delete the text ‘Clause 8.3.2’ and replace with ‘Clause 5.3.2’.
  • Clause 6.2 Clause 6.2 replaced with new text

If you use AS 3862 and have noted any text discrepancies, please download the draft and check that it has been addressed.

In the near future, AS 3862 will be looked at again for a full revision.



Who are our Customers? (Part 2 of 2)

The customers of the future for the hydrocarbon industry will be:

  • Combined/back up support for renewable electricity generation
  • Aviation fuels
  • Industrial/manufacturing use that require the high heat value, including new usages not yet in play

Not meaning the near future, which is still going to look something like it does today (industry + home heating + gas-fired generation + cars + aviation + probably lots of other current uses I haven’t discovered yet).  I’m thinking into the mid- to distant-future, in the (misguided?) attempt to see a growth future – or at least a sustainable future – for the hydrocarbon industry.

I’m looking at hydrocarbon usage that is not easily replaced by renewables (and where it’s easy to replace, it should be).

Home and domestic use of hydrocarbons is not a growth area.  Homes and cars are undergoing their disruption right now, and in the very near future they will use energy from very different sources than how it looks today.

The current problem seems to be that the users we want to be courting, are apparently having to fight for affordable energy prices.  The news articles last week were clear on that:  this is unfortunate for us, if we are trying to encourage hydrocarbon users to keep using the products that we transport:

  • “Glencore threat over power costs” (AFR, May 30, 2017)
  • “Arrium caught in Santos LNG fight (AFR, May 30, 2017)
  • “Finkel report just the beginning” (AFR, May 30, 2017).

Glencore is a mining company with copper mineral processing operations in Mount Isa and Townsville; they need cheap energy to be sustainable. Arrium is the steel-maker in South Australia, currently under administration and looking for a buyer.  Clearly affordable energy is important to that business.  Another one that was in the news seeking affordable energy is IO, makers of glass products in Australia.

Copper, steel and other metals, and glass makers.  These are some of our industrial customers. Society will absolutely continue to need minerals, steel, glass and other metals in the near, middle and distant future – whether ‘society’ connects their lifestyle with these industrial producers, or not.  The new paradigm is that we need to work with these industries, and other industrial users, to keep hydrocarbons in the forefront of their operations, as a solution – and not something that gives them a financial – and social – headache every day.













Who are our customers? (Part 1 of 2)

After 25 years in the hydrocarbon pipeline industry, it has occurred to me, to be completely honest, that I’ve not really thought too deeply about who actually uses the gas/oil we transport in Australia, and for what.

That’s a mistake.

Knowing who our users are is becoming more and more important for us, as an industry, to understand.  Falling demand for gas makes it difficult to justify investing in new pipeline infrastructure.

The hard reality is that the green/environmental movement has made an impact on our industry.  We are not ‘under the radar’ anymore, like it used to be, with development occurring and the general public not really being aware of it (could we even build the Eastern Gas Pipeline now?).

We’ve been disrupted.

I sometimes liken myself to a well-meaning , competent member of the tobacco industry… in the 1950s and 60s, it was the industry to be in, and it could do no wrong.  Nowadays, I’m sure there are plenty of competent, well-meaning people in accounting, engineering, or agricultural roles who, through no fault of their own, now must sheepishly admit that they work in the vilified tobacco industry. They are just doing their job in order to keep the income coming.  Guess what – we in the gas industry are kind of heading that way too. Personal harm (tobacco) and environmental harm may soon be on the same playing field.

So, who uses gas?  Why do they use gas? These are important questions to help us with our plight.  Unfortunately the reality is that suburban/household use can probably survive without gas.  And, in fact, I’ve heard that a suburb in Canberra is being built without connection to the gas network (sorry ActewAGL).  The reality is, with households now able to go ‘off the grid’, frankly, domestic gas usage is not going to grow much in the future.  Unless we promote to chefs, who appreciate that gas stoves are the best.

So, who needs gas? Industry.  I wonder if that’s all that’s left for us. And maybe backup gas-fired power plants, but even they are being re-considered with the advantages of solar/wind/battery combinations coming to fruition.

We need to promote our importance to “industry”, and also make it easier for them to get the products. Remember that “industry” also means “jobs” and “Australian-made” products.  So it’s worth thinking about.  We all need to.

This is an diagram excerpted from the recently published Standards Australia “Roadmap for Standards and the Future of Distributed Electricity – May 2017“.  This is the way we’re going.  Three of the four scenarios do not implicitly need gas. But this is also only a domestic-usage picture, not industrial use.

Part 2 on Thursday.


Digital Change at Standards Australia

In the latest Standards News (May 2017), we’ve been advised about the digital transformation underway at Standards Australia.  This is good news, but, it is slow in being rolled out.




The 2-minute video can be watched here (Video).  But below is the gist of the contents:

Standards Information Management Portal – appears to be a new management tool for committees to access (and revise?) Standards.  We currently use a portal called “Standards Hub” which seems to be a Livelink based tool.  The url “” (as visible in the video) requires a login to access, and I haven’t been able to yet.

Simplified Drafting Template: an xml tool with guidance for drafting new standards has been developed – and by the onscreen shots of it, it looks good.  But at this stage it seems to apply only to writing brand-new Standards, not revising existing ones.  For anyone on committees revising existing standards and fiddling with the formatting, that’s a shame.

ISOlutions – this is a new voting platform for ISO Standards.  Our ISO representative has already harnessed this and is managing the platform for us, so that one is underway.

So, 1 out of 3 ain’t bad?  I would’ve liked to have been able to say that we have access to all three innovations, but no.  I’ve contacted our Project Manager at Standards in the hopes that a high interest level from us may mean that ME-038 is chosen to start accessing these technologies sooner rather than later.

PS – another good bit of news is that Standards is putting together an ‘induction academy’ for new committee members.  An introductory video is available here.  This also looks to be a positive development coming out of Standards.

PPS – If you’d like to receive the monthly emailed Standards Updates, you can subscribe here.