Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Fire Safety (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 31/2016]
Madam, I support the Bill’s intention to appoint one risk owner to ensure the integrity of the entire pipeline corridor, from the point of supply (e.g. a refinery) to the point of discharge (e.g. port where petrol is loaded onto a ship).
As a regional hub for oil and gas, Singapore is covered with submarine and land lines connecting areas such as Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island to the mainland.
Pipelines carrying flammable materials are exposed to high risks – including rupture and oil spillage. Just last month, governors in a few American states declared a state of emergency after a pipeline carrying petroleum ruptured in central Alabama, spilling more than 300,000 gallons of fuel in an ecologically-sensitive area and causing fuel shortages.
This is a reminder that we cannot be complacent, and should enact legislative changes before accidents occur.
This Bill will ensure we have single-piece accountability for the integrity of our pipelines. This will mean more efficient decision-making during emergency responses.
The frequent usage of pipelines leads to the reduction of wall thickness, creating higher chances of wall rupture. Thus, in the long-term, the integrity of pipelines would also be more secure if one party is liable to conduct inspections, maintenance, train operation staff, and other such responsibilities.
Madam, I would like to ask a few questions on the Bill.
Issues related to implementing the changes
Firstly, how easy or difficult is it to convert from the current arrangement to the desired single-party arrangement? Have we sought feedback from the companies about the proposed changes?
Secondly, in an arrangement where there are multiple pipes within a pipe network, how would the Ministry define a ‘pipe corridor’?
Would the entire pipe network be considered as a single pipe corridor, meaning that there is only one owner, or would it be considered as multiple pipe corridors, meaning that there are a few owners held accountable?
This is an important point to raise because the integrity of the entire pipe network is dependent on the integrity of the weakest pipe, and maintenance of the entire network needs to be consistent. I raise this question simply to seek clarity on this definition in the Bill. I appreciate it is difficult to explain this question in words and have as such provided the Minister with a drawing illustrating this point.
Thirdly, can the Minister share what are the commercial implications of this change?
Madam, these questions notwithstanding, safety is always of utmost importance, and I stand in support of the Bill.