Report finds pipelines still safest way to deliver energy

A report has found pipeline incidents in the US have decreased in the last five years despite more pipelines operating.

Pipeline Safety Excellence Performance Report, released by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Association Of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL), found that during the period, the total length of pipelines increased by more than 37,000 km or 12 per cent; however, incidents impacting people or the environment decreased by 21 per cent, 74 per cent of which have been contained within operators’ facilities, such as pump stations or tank farms.

In addition, the total crude oil and petroleum products barrels delivered by pipeline has also increased by more than 44 per cent, while the natural gas and oil industry supports 10.3 million jobs across the US economy.

The report also concluded the implementation of a pipeline safety management system (SMS) was a critical priority for the pipeline industry in order to effectively improve safety performance.

API-AOPL Pipeline Safety Excellence Steering Committee Chair Todd Denton, who is also Phillips 66 Pipeline President, said the report shows pipelines remain one of the safest ways to transport energy, delivering product safely 99.9 per cent of the time.

“Our ongoing safety improvement efforts include implementing enhanced technologies to evaluate our assets, analysing data and sharing learnings and best practices as we drive towards the industry goal of zero incidents,” he said.

“In addition to fewer total pipeline incidents, releases caused by corrosion or pipe material failures are down 35 per cent and incidents caused by incorrect operation are down 38 per cent over the last five years.”

Mr Denton said technology is a main driver of the pipeline industry’s continuous improvement.

“Ongoing industry-wide research and development initiatives will test and validate the performance of new ‘smart pig’ inspection tools,” he said.

“Every year, we continue to improve and apply more advanced technologies.

“We are using ultrasonic, electromagnetic acoustic wave, and magnetic flux technologies to find ever smaller issues in pipelines that we can repair long before they become a problem.

“We continue to improve the data modelling and analytics as well, enhancing our predictive capabilities.

Mr Denton said pipeline operators are also innovating organisational management and enhancing safety cultures.

“In 2019, industry-wide efforts will promote wider adoption of pipeline SMS for companies throughout our industry, and in specific functions such as construction quality management, inspections and maintenance, and leak detection programs,” he said.

“Pipelines benefit consumers and working Americans.”

“Delivering energy that fuels our country, providing jobs that drive our economy, keeping our employees safe, and protecting our neighbours and the environment are what motivates us.”

For more information visit the AOPL website.

If you have news you would like featured in Pipelines International contact Assistant Editor Chloe Jenkins at cjenkins@gs-press.com.au

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