Process Performance Improvement Consultants, LLC


About P-PIC



Our Firm and Our Experience in the Industry
While working in separate organizations in the mid-1990s, we began our collaboration at that point through work in the industry. John S. Zurcher worked for TENNECO Energy, as Director of Pipeline Services and served as the Chairman of the INGAA Pipeline Safety Committee from 1991 to 2000. Mark L. Hereth worked for HSB, as Senior Vice President, and served as a consultant to INGAA and GRI. Joe Martinelli was President of Chevron Pipeline and served as President of the API General Committee on Pipelines from 1993 to 1996, and as Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Liquid Risk Assessment Quality Team from 1994 to 1996.


The Liquid Risk Assessment Team was a team comprising members of the hazardous liquid pipeline industry, the Office of Pipeline Safety, public safety organizations and public interest groups. John served on the Gas Risk Assessment Quality Team, as did Mark from 1995 to 1996. The Gas Team was comprised of natural gas pipeline operators as well as representative of the Office of Pipeline Safety, public safety organizations and public interest groups. A combined team was formed in 1996 to develop a standard on risk management in pipeline operations that was published in 1997. We collaborated during this time as members of the liquid and gas teams and then as members of the joint team.


Joe brought his experience of managing organizational change and implementing process improvements throughout Chevron. Mark brought a deep knowledge of risk assessment, auditing and process facilitation through his work in related energy industries, petroleum refining and petrochemical processing. John brought a fundamental understanding of design, operations and maintenance with a deep knowledge of codes and standards. We combined these skills in our work on the risk assessment quality teams and have continued to do so since that point.


Joe and John both worked with our respective trade organizations in the mid-1990s to provide input to improve the Pipeline Safety Act building upon our experience. John testified before a two House subcommittee in 1999 and 2000 as Congress was considering amendments to the Act. John also maintained strong involvement in the development and updating of codes and standards, serving on the ASME committee for pipeline design, construction, operations and maintenance, referred to as B31.8, since 1980 and today continue that involvement.


Joe retired as President of Chevron Pipeline in 1997, and shortly thereafter joined Mark at HSB as a Senior Consultant to the company. Mark and Joe were hired as independent consultants in 1997 by Colonial Pipeline to design a program to prevent and reduce the frequency and consequence of spills on their pipeline system. They were approved to work in this capacity by the US Department of Justice as a part of a settlement agreement entered into with Colonial. Their work entailed an in-depth audit of current design, operations and maintenance practices and development of a framework to benchmark those practices against leading practices. They worked with company personnel and defined 25 improvement projects to be completed over a five-year period. The approach including each of the 25 projects was reviewed by US DOJ personnel and ultimately approved. The DOJ, as is often the case, advocated a slate of prescriptive measures, such as monitoring depth of cover and inspecting water crossings as specified frequencies. Mark and Joe demonstrated the value and importance of higher-level management systems, to ensure that prescriptive measures have a sustainable, measurable affect. The impact has been dramatic as Colonial’s spill performance has improved; with there being a period of over three years without a spill to water.


Joe saw a need for executive education specific to pipelines and worked with the Transportation Center at Northwestern University to develop and present a program on pipeline operations and economics each fall. The course was intended to provide an overview of a variety of aspects of the business, including sessions on legislative and regulatory aspects. Mark served on the faculty of the program, presenting background and anticipated trends on regulatory matters. Joe worked with the Transportation Center in 1999 to add a program in the spring of each year to highlight the special needs related to managing pipeline integrity. Mark served as a member of the faculty on this program as well, presenting trends and information on maintenance of pipeline systems.


The Board of Directors of Olympic Pipeline hired Mark and Joe in 1999 following the tragic accident that killed three young boys in Bellingham, Washington. The Board charged them with reviewing management practices in place used by the operator, Equillon (joint venture between Shell and Texaco), and to make recommendations to improve the system safety and prevent further accidents. Mark and Joe applied a similar approach to that used with Colonial, again using a framework of leading practices to benchmark current design, operations and maintenance practices. They recommended that a series of management systems be developed and implemented, and that specific inspection and testing be conducted prior to re-starting the pipeline.


Mark and John served on a task force initiated by INGAA in 1999 to develop a more comprehensive foundation for managing pipeline integrity. This work was to build off of the work around risk assessment and risk management several years earlier. The task force was comprised of natural gas pipeline operators as well as engineering and research experts. Mark and John worked collaboratively on a methodology to systematically and comprehensively identify how integrity might be compromised and how it might be managed to achieve sustainable improvement. We drew upon work of John Kiefner and developed a threat-based approach to understanding threats to integrity and the condition of the pipeline system. We then drew upon the work that Mark and Joe had done to develop an approach that first drew upon the historical use of prevention measures as the first line of defense in managing integrity, complemented by periodic inspection and testing to ensure system integrity. Operators had been using a variety of prevention measures, such as cathodic protection and surveillance, and had also applied periodic inspection and testing; however, not in a comprehensive and systematic manner, integrating these throughout their systems. Mark and John, along with Bernie Selig, at that point with HSB and now an associate with the firm, drafted a compendium document, providing the prevention, inspection and mitigation technologies used, along with their demonstration status, applicability and effectiveness. The work was published in a document entitled, Prevention, Detection and Mitigation in Managing Pipeline Integrity of Natural Gas Pipeline Systems in 2000, GRI - 0193.


The work of the task group identified a series of gaps and needs to complete the foundation for a comprehensive and systematic means of managing integrity. John led the identification of the gaps and needs as Chairman of the INGAA Pipeline Safety Committee and Mark and Bernie served as advisors. One of the most significant gaps was a document that provided the technical basis for operators to manage integrity. Bernie and John led the drafting of the Integrity Management Standard for Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines, published in 2002, under ASME.


During this time, Mark and Joe continued to work with natural gas and liquid pipeline operators to identify gaps in existing programs and projects to improve their program effectiveness. The first step in each of these assignments was an independent audit of current design, operations and maintenance practices. Mark and Joe presented their audit findings to company executives and made recommendations on how to close gaps and improve safety performance. In each case, they led a team of company personnel in the identification of and development of improvement projects.


John left Columbia Gas in 2001 to join Joe and Mark at HSB, as a vice president. He began to work with Joe and Mark on projects to define gaps in our client’s current programs and improvement projects.


We maintain our commitment to being active in promoting pipeline safety. Mark was invited to testify by Congressman Tauzan in 2002 as the Congress deliberated on amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act. He testified before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March of 2002 sharing the experience of HSB and our collective






Process Performance Improvement Consultants, LLC

A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of

The Blacksmith Group