In August, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) released a new report documenting liquids pipeline safety performance and outlining industry-wide efforts to improve pipeline safety in 2016 and beyond.
The 2016 API-AOPL Annual Liquids Pipeline Safety Excellence Performance Report & Strategic Plan, developed jointly by AOPL and the American Petroleum Institute (API), highlights pipeline safety trends over the last five years.
“Large pipeline incidents, those over 500 barrels, are down 32% over the last 5 years,” said Andy Black, AOPL President and CEO.
The report covers transmission pipelines delivering crude oil, refined petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil, and natural gas liquids like propane and ethane used in factories and on farms. Report highlights include:
· Incidents per mile larger than 500 barrels decreased by 32%
· 99.999% of crude oil and petroleum products delivered by pipeline reach their destination safely
· Pipeline incidents potentially impacting people or the environment outside of operator facilities are down 52% since 1999
· Corrosion caused pipeline incidents potentially impacting people or the environment outside of operator facilities are down 68% since 1999
· In 2015, 65% of pipeline incident releases were less than 5 barrels
· 16.2 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products delivered by pipeline in 2014 (the most recent year data is available), a 20% increase since 2010
· 207,800 miles of liquids pipeline cross America delivering crude oil, refined petroleum products and natural gas liquids, a 13% increase over the last 5 years
The Pipeline Safety Performance chapter provides further information analyzing the industry-wide safety record, including where performance is improving and which areas hold challenges. This in-depth examination of safety performance not only allows industry to gauge progress, but also helps prioritize safety efforts.
This report also outlines the specific industry-wide actions liquids pipeline operators are taking to improve pipeline safety and reduce the number of pipeline incidents. Pipeline operators are not standing by or waiting for new safety requirements, according to the report. Instead, pipeline operators are pushing forward with new technologies to keep pipelines safe, new methods for inspecting, monitoring, building, and performing preventative maintenance on pipelines, and new systems for managing pipeline safety programs.
The Pipeline Safety Improvement chapter describes goals for improving pipeline safety and Strategic Initiatives the pipeline industry will undertake toward those goals. To help shape these, each year the pipeline industry reaches out to stakeholders, including federal and state regulators and safety advocates, to gain their perspective on improving pipeline safety. AOPL and API also reviewed past safety performance data, safety expert recommendations, regulatory advisories, and our own lessons learned from experience operating pipeline systems.
Strategic Initiatives developed for 2016 focus on advancing in-line inspection “smart pig” technology and enhancing pipeline emergency response and planning, as well as support implementation of new industry-wide recommended practices for these focuses: safety management systems; detecting, analyzing and responding to potential pipeline cracking and managing leak detection programs.