Petronas must respond

The somewhat damning Petronas safety audit uncovered by the Vancouver Sun is far from the silver bullet some make it out to be.

While the somewhat damning Petronas safety audit uncovered by the Vancouver Sun is far from the silver bullet some make it out to be, it does raise some serious and valid questions about what people here on the North Coast can expect should the Lelu Island terminal proceed.

The report itself outlines some significant safety concerns, primarily with corroded valves that hadn’t been inspected for more than two decades and findings of “systemic” problems related to staff training and competence.

Looking at the report in context, people are correct to point out that these issues are in another country with an entirely different set of standards when it comes to safety while the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal will be built under much stricter Canadian regulations.

However, brushing off the findings of the audit by arguing that it was undertaken by the company itself and is two years old doesn’t really hold water.

The fact that it took concerns around a number of accidents and at least two casualties at Petronas sites before the audit was conducted should certainly be cause for concern.

The company is promising world class safety standards with the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, a claim they should be able to live up to given the stringent Canadian laws, but this audit speaks to a culture within Pacific NorthWest LNG’s parent company that doesn’t place safety at the top of the list of priorities. If it were, the situation would not have gotten to a point where the valves were corroded and a $10 billion (US) program needed to be launched to right the wrongs.

Petronas — not necessarily Pacific NorthWest LNG — is going to have to provide answers to the people of the North Coast about how they are going to ensure a similar situation that was happening in Malaysia never makes it way to British Columbia. And in this case, the sooner the better.