Tag Archives: petroleum

Pipeline Project Moving Forward…

Enbridge Energy Co.’s plan to build a new $1.9 billion pipeline across northern Indiana and Michigan is drawing considerable interest. It should draw applause as well.

The company plans to replace the existing 30-inch crude oil and liquid petroleum pipeline from Griffith to Stockbridge, Mich., with a 36-inch pipeline. The 30-inch pipeline, built in the 1960s, would be left in place, cleaned out and sealed, after the new pipeline becomes operational.

What has brought so much public attention to this project is the need to expand the easement through people’s yards and fields. “The easement is getting full,” Enbridge project director Thomas Hodge said, so Enbridge is asking property owners for an additional 25 feet. That extra room improves safety when digging up pipelines and keeps structures from being built near a pipeline that otherwise could be right on the edge of the existing easement.

Building the new pipeline will create more than 1,000 temporary and permanent jobs, a big plus in itself, but it also means improved safety. Installing a new pipeline means less maintenance, so there would be fewer disruptions to property owners.

Hodge hopes contractors will begin work in May, with ground broken in June, after the necessary permits have been obtained.

SOURCE: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-keep-pipeline-project-moving-forward/article_2495103a-a8b3-52f0-a04e-1f0c924b0bf2.html

Port Explosion Report Reveals Tank Corrosion “Easily” Detectable

An investigation into the cause of a Gibraltar port explosion last May has uncovered a litany of alleged physical faults and management shortfalls at the sullage plant operated by Nature Port Reception Facilities [Nature], including claims that storage tanks were heavily corroded and badly maintained.

Investigators from specialist company Capita Symonds attributed the explosion to holes in the roof of tanks used to store petroleum products, which allowed highly flammable vapor to escape.

The tank rooftops were dotted with 60 perforations caused by long term corrosion, the investigation found.

Two men welding on top of one of the tanks caused the vapor to ignite, resulting in the explosion.

The investigators also found evidence that, in their view, suggested serious flaws in the way the plant was operated.

They described “significant departures” from good health and safety procedures in a facility of this type, with management policies and procedures lacking sufficient detail.

“In the light of these findings, the suspension of Nature Port’s licence will not be lifted until a final decision is taken with regard to that licence after due process has been followed and all the material facts and issues considered,” the Gibraltar Government, which commissioned the investigation, said in a statement.

“The deficiencies, failings and shortcomings found in the report, and the extent to which they may have been remedied or be capable of remedy are material factors.”

The investigations undertaken by Capita Symonds examined the causes of the incident, the adequacy of the plant operator’s management systems and health and safety and accident management procedures and plans, and the condition of the tanks and plant.

STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY

The investigation found evidence that although the poor physical condition of the tanks was noted in 2008 during a survey by a local structural and engineering company, repairs had not been carried out.

The 2008 inspection also recommended annual surveys to ensure the structural integrity of the tanks but the investigators said they found no evidence that Nature had acted on the advice.

David Hughes, a health and safety consultant who formed part of the Capita Symonds team, wrote that “…, from routine inspection by a competent surveyor, any potentially affected areas should be easily detected and repaired by suitable means.”

“The areas on the two tank roofs will have been affected by corrosion and perforations which would have been visible many years prior to the incident of 31 May 2011, and thus readily discoverable by routine survey.”

Mr Hughes also noted that the plant was licensed to operate by the Environment Agency but that there was no evidence that the agency regularly inspected the facility.

The investigator found that even though the repairs to the tanks recommended in 2008 had not been carried out, Nature was granted a petroleum licence in November 2009 allowing it to handle products with a very low flashpoint.

Read More – SOURCE: http://www.chronicle.gi/headlines_details.php?id=23266

Risks for expanding a heavy crude oil pipeline are too high

Within weeks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is supposed to decide whether to authorize a 1,600-mile expansion of a tar sands crude oil pipeline network across six Midwestern, Western and Southern U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Alternatively, she could pass the decision on to President Barack Obama.

The expanded pipeline network, owned and operated by a Canadian company called TransCanada, would be able to push 450 million to 550 million gallons of heavy tar sands crude per day from a processing facility northeast of Calgary, Alberta, to refineries and ports on the Gulf of Mexico.

The expansion, called Keystone XL, would interconnect with TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline, which phased into operation in 2010 and early 2011. Keystone 1 stretches 2,151 miles from Alberta to Cushing, Okla. It includes a leg that cuts from west to east across Missouri, dives under the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, connects on the Illinois side to the Wood River Refinery at Roxana and ends at a storage site at Patoka, Ill.

Bitumen, the petroleum essence of tar sands crude, is a heavy, nearly solid substance that requires dilution with toxic solvents before it can move through pipelines. Even then, high-pressure pumps are required to keep the material moving, and friction of the diluted bitumen against the inner walls of the pipes raises temperatures to 150 degrees or higher.

  • At a U.S. House oversight subcommittee hearing in June, Cynthia Quarterman, the head of the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, testified that current integrity standards for oil pipelines do not consider the abrasive effects of tar sands oil. She said no studies of such effects were done before or since the integrity regulations were adopted.
  • In 18 of the last 21 years, toxic liquid spills from pipelines in the United States were greater than 4 million gallons per year. Pipeline equipment failures, installation errors and construction defects were the main reason for half of the spills; 42 percent involved crude oil.
  • In the summer of 2010, a pipeline near Marshall, Mich., operated by Enbridge Energy spewed 843,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River. More than a year later, 35 miles of the river remain closed, and estimates of the costs are at half a billion dollars and rising.
  • This summer, an Exxon Mobil pipeline in Montana burst and sent at least 42,000 of regular crude oil into the Yellowstone River. After an initial denial, the company said that the pipeline previously had carried abrasive tar sands crude, raising concerns that corrosion that might have contributed to the failure.

A report commissioned by TransCanada projected the equivalent of nearly 120,000 full-time jobs resulting from the Keystone XL project, although more recently, proponents have been using a figure of 20,000. A State Department analysis projected closer to 2,500 jobs per year for two years.

Project boosters also are touting increased American energy security because tar sands crude would come from Canada, not the Middle East or other trouble spots. But recent TransCanada annual reports to stockholders note that more than 80 percent of Keystone’s capacity already is committed under contracts averaging 18 years, and at least one large purchaser, Valero Energy, has suggested to its investors that much of that heavy crude could be refined into diesel and shipped to markets in Central and South America and Europe.

SOURCE: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2011/10/11/2077674/risks-for-expanding-a-heavy-crude.html#ixzz1aW3dBfio