Accidents related to production, processing, storage and transportation of oil and its by-products have been studied extensively because of their social and environmental impacts. However, accidents relating to construction of oil facilities have been largely ignored by researches, perhaps because such accidents involve a smaller group of people and result in smaller-scale environmental impacts.

Pipeline construction projects are particularly unique. As opposed to construction of processing plants, pipeline construction covers a very long reach, often involving varying site conditions. Consequently, there are more environmental issues, many of which vary from place to place along the pipeline route as a result of the differing soil, drainage, vegetation and exposure conditions.

The variable conditions, exposure and consequences of accidents along a pipeline route result in many challenges related to risk management. Specifically, risk management is difficult as a result of transportation along the pipeline corridor, multiple access routes to the pipeline corridor, unique culture and social issues in various parts of the country, and remote working conditions. Major issues are moving work sites; crossing of different areas of the country with several typical cultural and regional aspects; multiple work sites and the isolation of workers in small groups. These factors make risk management particularly important, but easy to ignore.

In this paper we discuss the major potential risks in every phase of the pipeline construction. The paper describes the company’s process for managing risk during pipeline construction. It identified the limitations of traditional safety management systems in coping with the critical problems related to environmental and safety issues.

Many company are using integrated management systems as the major tools to control risk. Such systems cover health, safety and environmental issues (HSE).

PETROBARS, as the largest Brazilian oil company and one of the leading oil companies in the world, has adopted the HSE system. The system focuses on employee participation in implementation of the HSE system.

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