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.

Cost of Corrosion Increase – Forth Road Bridge

Significant inaccuracies in the as-built drawings for the Forth Road Bridge’s cable anchorages are to dramatically increase the cost of corrosion investigations, the “New Civil Engineer” publication learned this week.

Examination of the bridge’s southern anchorages – which hold the huge suspension cables in place – is taking much longer than anticipated because they are deeper and steeper than the on the original as-built drawings.

The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta) is investigating the condition of the 48 year old anchorages after a resident engineer’s report raised concerns about the possibility of corrosion in the post tensioned strands within them.

In a capital update report to the bridge authority, Forth Road Bridge chief engineer and bridgemaster Barry Colford says the cost of the inspection is likely to be “significantly higher than the original estimate” of £3.5M.

“It’s a very resource driven contract,” Colford told NCE. “As the rockhead level was higher and there more was concrete [than anticipated] the contractor has had to spend more money.”


The anchorages are four concrete filled tunnels – 80m deep on the south side, 57m deep on the north side – and up to 14m in diameter.

The anchorages each transfer a load of 14,000t from the main suspensions cables into the bedrock.

Each anchorage consists of 114 ducts with four post-tensioned, galvanised, 32mm diameter high tensile steel strands made up of 19 wires in each.

With the original access chamber to the bottom of all four anchorages filled in, the only way to assess the condition of the strands is to dig down and open them up, said Colford.

Contractor Graham began the anchorage investigation on the southern bank in August 2011 under a New Engineering Contract (NEC) 3 Option C target cost contract with a target cost of £3.5M.

But after investigations began, engineers discovered that the ducts were 400mm deeper and were at an angle of 33˚, not 30˚ as recorded on the as-built drawings.

“It’s a significant change to what we expected and it is very disappointing the as-built drawings of a major structure were not correct,” added Colford.

Graham will begin exposing up to nine stands on each of the southern anchorages by the end of the year. Consultant Fairhurst will assess the strength of the anchorages by the end of 2013.

Colford is in discussions with Graham about the size of the compensation event – the cost of work unforeseen at tender stage – and £220,000 has already been agreed.

The extra funds for the anchorage investigation are contributing to an overall deficit of £3.5M in Feta’s capital budget for 2012/13.

Its capital funding was cut by 58% by Transport Scotland last year.

Colford said budget shortfall would be met by using some of Feta’s £5.8M reserve, as well as delaying or cancelling “non-committed” schemes on the bridge.

He was also seeking additional funds from Transport Scotland.


BG, Spectra Energy to set up gas pipeline JV in Canada

Gas pipeline operator Spectra Energy Corp said it will construct and operate a natural gas transportation system under a joint venture with BG Group PLC in British Columbia in Canada.

Spectra Energy said BG will contract for the full capacity of the pipeline, expected to be able to transport up to 4.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfe/d) of natural gas.

Each company will own 50 percent of the project, Spectra said in a statement.

Spectra currently moves about 2.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through its pipeline system in British Columbia.

The 525-mile, large-diameter pipeline will connect northeast British Columbia to BG Group’s potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Prince Rupert on the British Columbia coast.

In May, Spectra had said it would spend $4.00 billion to $6.00 billion in British Columbia after 2015 to build projects that could include large pipelines connecting the Canadian province with energy-hungry Asian markets.


Corrosion Costs U.S. DOD $20.9 Billion Annually

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that corrosion costs the Department about $20.9 billion annually.

Corrosion can negatively affect all military assets, including both equipment and infrastructure, and is defined as the deterioration of a material or its properties due to a reaction of that material with its environment. Corrosion also affects military readiness by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards.

Section 2228 of Title 10 of the United States Code requires DOD, as part of its annual budget submission, to submit a report to Congress on corrosion funding. In the report, DOD is to include (1) funding requirements for its long-term corrosion reduction strategy, (2) the return-oninvestment (ROI) that would be achieved by implementing the strategy, (3) the current and previous fiscal year funds requested in the budget compared to funding requirements, (4) an explanation if funding requirements are not fully funded in the budget, (5) the amount of funds requested for both the current and previous fiscal years in the budget for each project or activity described in DOD’s long-term strategy compared to the funding requirements for the project or activity, and (6) a copy of the annual corrosion report most recently submitted by the corrosion control and prevention executive of each military department as an annex to its report. The military departments’ reports are to include recommendations pertaining to the department’s corrosion control and prevention program and related funding levels to carry out all of the duties of the corrosion control and prevention executive. Corrosion also affects military readiness by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards.

Section 2228 also requires us to analyze DOD’s budget submission and report and provide an assessment to the congressional defense committees within 60 days after the submission of the budget for the fiscal year, which this year occurred on February 13, 2012. DOD submitted its annual report to Congress on May 21, 2012, and we received the report on May 23, 2012. Our objectives were to (1) determine the extent to which DOD’s corrosion report included the mandated elements, (2) assess the extent to which DOD’s Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPC) funding request met total estimated CPC funding requirements for activities and preliminary project proposals as identified in the fiscal year 2013 corrosion report, and (3) calculate the potential cost avoidance that DOD may achieve by funding CPC at the level requested in its fiscal year 2013 corrosion budget materials report and the cost avoidance DOD may miss by not fully funding its requirements. Enclosure I provides briefing slides for congressional committees detailing the results of our analysis of DOD’s CPC budget request and the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight’s (CPO) accompanying report for fiscal year 2013.


To ensure that Congress has the accurate and comprehensive information it needs to exercise its oversight responsibilities, we recommend for fiscal year 2013 and beyond that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to take the following three actions:

  • Provide in the annual corrosion budget report to Congress a more detailed explanation of the development of DOD’s funding requirements.
  • Include in the annual corrosion budget report to Congress the funds requested in DOD’s budget compared to the funding requirements for the fiscal year covered by the report and the preceding fiscal year.
  • Provide in the annual corrosion budget report to Congress an explanation of DOD’s ROI methodology and analysis, including both projected and, to the extent available, validated ROIs.


In summary, we found that DOD’s fiscal year 2013 corrosion budget report to Congress (1) included some, but not all of the six mandated elements; (2) included a funding request that equals DOD’s fiscal year 2013 stated requirements for corrosion activities and projects; and (3) lacked information needed to calculate the potential cost avoidance. First, DOD included three of the six mandated elements, did not include two of the elements, and one of the elements was not applicable this year. For example, DOD included the most recent annual corrosion reports of the military departments, attached in an annex. However, it did not include the funds requested in the budget compared to the funding requirements for the fiscal year covered by the report or the previous fiscal year. Second, DOD officials stated that the fiscal year 2013 budget request and the fiscal year 2013 funding requirements for activities and projects are the same this year–$9.1 million. According to these officials, DOD does not have any fiscal year 2013 unfunded requirements for corrosion activities and projects. Third, we did not calculate the cost avoidance DOD could achieve with its fiscal year 2013 budget request, because the analysis that DOD provided does not support the 14 to1 average ROI for projects cited in its report. Further, we did not calculate the cost avoidance that DOD might be missing by not funding its requirements, because DOD officials said that they do not have any unfunded requirements this year. Without all of the required information on DOD’s corrosion prevention and control activities and projects, DOD senior leaders and Congress may face challenges in assessing the levels of funding needed to effectively prevent and control corrosion.


TransCanada proposes new Keystone XL route in Nebraska

WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Via Reuters) – The company planning to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texas said on Wednesday it has submitted a new route for the project that will avoid sensitive ecological areas in Nebraska.

TransCanada Corp said the pipeline will avoid the Sandhills, a region of prairie and sand dunes that is rich in plants and wildlife, with thousands of ponds and lakes.

President Barack Obama delayed a decision on the pipeline earlier this year, citing concerns about the northern portion of the route near a major aquifer and the Sandhills in Nebraska.

TransCanada has been working with Nebraska officials to come up with a new route and it hopes to have U.S. State Department approval for the northern section early next year.

“Based on feedback from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the public, we have refined our proposed routing,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in the release.

The alternative route submitted in an environmental report to Nebraska on Wednesday was developed “based on extensive feedback from Nebraskans, and reflects our shared desire to minimize the disturbance of land and sensitive resources in the state,” said Girling.

A Nebraska public affairs official said he expected the state to publish maps of the new route on its website later on Wednesday.

An environmentalist said she would withhold comment on the new route until she had seen a map of the project.

A public affairs official with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality said he expected the state to publish maps of the new route on its website later on Wednesday.

Construction on the 700,000 barrels per day southern part of the line, renamed the Gulf Coast project, has already begun after Obama gave his support for that section.

The Gulf Coast project will drain a glut of crude in the U.S. midsection fed mostly by the oil boom in North Dakota.

The northern section of the line needs approval from the State Department because it crosses the national border.