Tag Archives: Pipeline Safety

Pipeline Petroleum Transport Investment May Predict Growing Cathodic Protection Needs

If Warren Buffet’s investment strategy is any indication, pipeline efficiency is going to start playing a bigger role in moving crude oil and natural gas in the United States.

The Berkshire Hathaway luminary is pipeline-efficiency-cathodic-protectionspearheading a swap of about $1.4 billion in shares of Phillips 66 for full ownership of the energy company’s pipeline petroleum transport services business. The business unit’s focus is polymer-based additives that are used to move crude oil and natural gas through pipelines more efficiently by reducing drag.

The shift in Berkshire’s investment strategy comes amid a boom in U.S. crude oil and natural gas production. Since many liquids pipelines in the United States are operating at capacity, producers can use the pipeline petroleum transport additive to quickly increase capacity without immediately growing pipeline infrastructure.

Although future pipeline projects may be in the works to meet the sharp increase in demand, the process of gaining approval for new pipeline projects can be slowed by permitting.

A greater reliance on existing pipelines for transporting liquids means that producers and pipeline owners need to pay even more attention to cathodic protection management, according to Kevin Groll, project management director for MATCOR, a Pennsylvania-based company that specializes in cathodic protection products and services.

“Any time you have pipeline you have to protect it from corrosion,” Groll said. “And that’s especially true when you increase the value of a pipeline by increasing its capacity. If that pipeline were to develop a corrosion problem you’d be facing a situation where your profitability could suffer significantly.”

“With pipeline owners using additives to push greater volumes of liquids it becomes imperative to use cathodic protection products such as impressed current anodes and cathodic protection rectifiers to protect the increased capacity and profitability of the pipeline infrastructure.”

Further Reading

Berkshire Swaps $1.4 Billion in Phillips 66 Stock in Deal,” Bloomberg, December 31, 2013.

Alberta to include public in safety review of its energy pipeline network

EDMONTON – Alberta plans to broaden a safety review of its vast energy pipeline network to include input from the public.

The province’s energy regulator hired a company in September to conduct a technical review of pipeline safety, spill response plans and the security of pipelines that cross water.

Energy Minister Ken Hughes says after that report is complete at the end of the year, the government will ask Albertans for their views on pipeline safety.

“We do want to engage everybody who has something constructive to contribute to this so there will be wider consultations in the new year,” Hughes told The Canadian Press in an interview.

The Alberta government asked for the technical safety review last summer following three pipeline-related spills.

In one of those spills, is a pipeline that leaked about 475,000 litres of oil into the Red Deer River, a major drinking water source for central Alberta.

Since July, more than 50 environmental, conservation, land rights, unions First Nations and other groups have been calling on Alberta to include the public in its pipeline safety review.

Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema praised the government’s decision to open up the review process to the public, but said its success will depend on its willingness to share information and to really listen to people’s concerns.

“I’m glad that the public is finally getting a chance to have their say,” Hudema said Thursday.

“Of course, it remains to be seen as to how much of a say they will have, how much their feedback will be incorporated in the actual decisions, or whether this is really just a public relations exercise.”

The Energy Resources Conservation Board hired Group 10 Engineering Ltd. of Calgary to conduct the technical review.

The company is to hand in a report to the board by the end of the month. The ERCB is to then submit the report, including its own conclusions, to Hughes by the end of the year.

Group 10 officials say under the terms of the contract, the company is strictly focusing on reviewing pipeline regulations, policies and best technical practices around the world. Consulting with the public is not part of its job.

“For this process to be effective, we have to be very guarded in how we engage people because it could turn out to be a mud-slinging, political, publicized nightmare. So we have to be cautious,” Group 10 director Daryl Foley said from Calgary.

Alberta is criss-crossed by a network of more than 400,000 kilometres of provincially regulated oil and natural gas pipelines, many of them up to 40 or 50 years old.

Hughes said the report will be made public in the new year and its findings will be the subject of the public consultations. He gave no timeline on when more details of the public review will be released or when it will start.

The final goal will be to determine whether or not the pipeline industry is performing to the best world standards and to come up with science-based solutions to fix any problems if it isn’t, Hughes added.

He also said the government will not allow the public consultation to delay the review process, which it hopes will reassure people in the province and around the world.

“Pipeline safety is important, not just to Albertans with respect to how pipelines perform. Pipeline safety and performance is also an important element of our social licence to operate as viewed by other Canadians and people living outside of Canada.”

“We all, as Albertans, have a concern that the pipeline industry is performing at its highest level possible. That expectation is set, not just by people who are technicians, but also by ordinary people like you and me who want to have input into policy process.”

Hughes said the government hasn’t decided how it will consult with the public, or whether the process will include public meetings or hearings.

SOURCE: http://thetyee.ca/CanadianPress/2012/11/01/Alta-Pipeline-Safety-Review-20623047/

Report: More to be done to make pipelines safer

The Associated Press reports that Salt Lake City authorities say more can be done to prevent massive oil spills in Utah like two costly ones near Red Butte Creek in 2010, but they’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the cost, according to a report released this week.

The review, commissioned by Salt Lake City and authored by the nonprofit Pipeline Safety Trust, points out that the state can go beyond the minimum pipeline safety standards outlined by the federal government.

“I would like it to be safer,” Carl Weimer, the trust’s executive director and study’s author, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “But maybe Utah doesn’t want it to be safer.”

The report comes two years after leaks in a Chevron pipeline spilled nearly 55,000 gallons of crude oil in Salt Lake City’s eastern foothills. Since then, Chevron spent about $42.6 million on spill-related expenses, including $36.6 million in cleanup efforts on Red Butte Creek, $500,000 to Utah, and $1 million to Salt Lake City.

Recommendations include clearer standards for leak detection and damage reports, more transparency, and the creation of a citizen pipeline safety advisory board that would work with oil and gas industry officials to periodically review the pipelines.

Weimer estimates there are 347 miles of natural gas and hazardous liquid transmission lines underground in the 500-square-mile Salt Lake valley. He says that’s far too many for regulators to monitor closely.

“Although the federal government is responsible for setting minimum pipeline safety standards, Utah can adopt additional or stricter safety standards,” the report says. “To date, Utah has not chosen to seek any authority over hazardous liquid pipelines or interstate natural gas pipelines.”

Mayor Ralph Becker responded to the report, saying Salt Lake City needs to take the lead on protecting the community rather than leaving the job to the industry.

Becker said he plans to bring the report to state lawmakers in hopes of getting stricter pipeline safety rules on the books.

Varanus Island gas explosion report slams Apache

US oil-and-gas giant Apache Energy has failed to block a scathing review of the Varanus Island gas explosion, which cut 30 per cent of Western Australia’s supply and cost the economy an estimated $3 billion.

Apache claimed the explosion at its plant off WA’s North-West coast in June 2008 was “unforseen and unforeseeable”.

But a long-awaited WA Government-commissioned report into the disaster, tabled in Parliament, contradicts those claims.

It found the company should have been alerted to the risks by evidence of corrosion of a 30cm pipe that later ruptured and exploded, causing $60 million damage to the plant and cutting industrial gas supplies to the state.

“We believe the risk of this occurring was not only foreseeable but to some extent foreseen,” the report stated.

The report also found Apache did not properly assess risks to the pipe network and did not have enough safety measures in place.

Apache has tried to suppress the report since it was completed in June 2009.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore told the Legislative Council today the report was scathing of Apache’s gas pipeline operations.

“I can inform the House that the report is highly critical of Apache, particularly regarding the company’s technical and operational failings as the operator,” he said.

“The report concluded Apache Northwest had the ultimate responsibility for maintaining the Varanus site in good condition and repair.”

The State Government tried to prosecute Apache over the disaster, but was forced to drop the criminal proceedings in March on a technicality.

It said it could not prove the gas giant failed to adequately maintain its “pipeline”, under the legal definition, as the corroded section of gas piping was described as “pipeworks”.

The tabling of the report in WA’s Upper House may now lead to civil action against the company.

SOURCE: http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/varanus-gas-explosion-report-slams-apache/story-e6frg2r3-1226365866625

$67 million requested for pipeline safety

Federal pipeline safety programs would get an extra $67 million and nearly 120 new employees under a proposal President Obama announced Monday that brought cheers from safety advocates pushing to address accidents and growing safety concerns.

The request, part of the president’s $3.8 trillion plan, would almost double the number of enforcement agents nationwide, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The increase also would cover improvements from research to accident investigation to information databases, according to an agency news release.

Pennsylvania safety officials and advocates and the national safety group Pipeline Safety Trust all urged Congress to approve the funding, though Republican leaders have said the president’s budget will be dead on arrival there.

Obama’s plan doesn’t provide a comprehensive solution to several key issues as the state’s pipeline system expands to handle the rush of shale gas, several officials said.

“It is helpful, but there are still huge gaps in pipeline safety,” said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania director of Clean Water Action.

The Obama administration has been pushing for safety system upgrades for more than a year in light of deadly explosions in Allentown, Philadelphia and suburban San Francisco.

Pennsylvania has a growing expanse of pipeline from shale gas development and one of the country’s oldest home heating gas transport and distribution systems. Utility and pipeline companies were spending about $800 million annually going into 2011 to beef up the system, in part to meet increasing federal safety demands.

State lawmakers in December passed rules that will allow them to receive federal funding and hire 12 to 15 inspectors. The Public Utility Commission still wants Congress to pass the increase as part of a general need to improve safety, spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said.

The state has 60,000 miles of pipe, and drillers could add 25,000 miles, according to federal figures and a report from the Nature Conservancy, an Arlington, Va.-based advocacy group. Nationwide, there were 10 pipeline incidents causing six deaths, seven injuries and more than $4.2 million in damage last year, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s online database.
SOURCE: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_781486.html

Oil industry, under pressure, vows pipeline safety boost

U.S. and Canadian not-for-profit groups said on Tuesday that they’re conducting a “comprehensive” joint study to improve pipeline safety.

The effort follows several notable accidents over the last two years, and comes as oil companies are pressing the Obama administration to approve a major pipeline linking Canadian oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

In a statement, six industry not-for-profit groups said the study will “explore safety models and procedures currently utilized by other industry sectors in an effort to deliver natural gas and pipeline-transported liquids more safely and reliably.”

“The collaborative group is committed to promoting positive safety cultures throughout the industry and hopes that by learning from others, the energy pipeline industry can identify and implement a model that will measurably improve pipeline system safety,” the trade groups said jointly.

The groups are:

Pipeline safety is drawing increased scrutiny following the ExxonMobil pipeline break this summer that released an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil into Montana’s Yellowstone River.

An Enbridge pipeline spilled roughly 800,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River last summer, and a September gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., killed eight people.

A TransCanada oil pipeline has suffered leaks in Kansas and North Dakota this year. The company is seeking State Department approval to build a separate, 1,700-mile pipeline — called Keystone XL —  from Alberta, Canada’s oil sands projects to Texas.

Industry groups and many GOP lawmakers are backing the project, but environmentalists are lobbying the Obama administration against it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that Keystone XL, if approved, would operate under tougher safety standards than the law requires.

SOURCE: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/176105-oil-industry-under-pressure-vows-pipeline-safety-boost-