ICI's Actuator & Valve Industry Blog

Pipelines: Safest Option for Oil & Gas Transportation in the US

Posted on Mon, Jun 16, 2014

There are more than 180,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines across the United States. They connect extracting areas to refineries and petrochemical plants as well as delivering the refined product to American consumers for personal and business uses. 

Pipeline with electric actuator from indelac controls

Most pipelines are buried, largely unseen thus very safe and efficient. They move crude oil, shale gas from the fields on land and offshore to refineries where it is turned into fuels and other products, then from the transformation plants to terminals where fuels are trucked to retail outlets. See How Electric Rotary Valve Actuators can Optimize Ethanol/Gasoline Blending at Truck Terminals. Pipelines operate 24/7 so America never stops working.

Safety is #1 priority. Operators make every effort to protect pipelines from corrosion, and other threats. An important part of safety protocols is collecting and analyzing data on pipeline leaks. Every spill of more than five gallons has to be reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, the industry collects and analyzes more detailed spill data through the Pipeline Performance Tracking System (PPTS), which has collected data related to leakages since the end of the 90s. 85% of the data collected by the PPTS are coming voluntarily from liquid petroleum pipelines. Read more about the PPTS by the API: Here.

Indelac actuators on oil and gas pipeline

Following recommendations of the PPTS, pipeline operators have radically increased the number of features related to pipeline safety. As a result, both the number and the volume of spills have been decreasing ever since.

Between the end of the 90s, with the first data collected and the end of the 2000s there has been a 60% reduction in the number of spills per 1,000 miles of pipeline and a 43% reduction in the volume spilled per 1,000 miles of pipeline.

Every leak is one too many, and operators, working with regulators, continue efforts to reduce them with an ultimate goal of zero spills, zero damages and zero injuries.

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