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The safety of oil and gas pipelines is a major concern worldwide, as pipes continue to corrode and lose strength. With 2.5 Million miles of oil and gas transmission pipelines in the U.S. alone, we have already seen more than 1,400 pipeline incidents since 1986, of which the Wall Street Journal reported 364 incidents last year. According to public interest journal Pro Publica, Corrosion has caused between 15 and 20 percent of all reported “significant incidents”, where extensive damage or death have resulted from broken pipes. Corroded pipes are not only potentially fatal, but come at a great cost to replace.

Oil and gas pipelines post danger to the environment when they leak, as hazardous materials are released into the environment, and explosions can occur when oil or gas are exposed to oxygen or heat/flame. Inspections help reduce the number of accidents we see each year. However, in the U.S. only 7% of natural gas lines and 44% of hazardous liquid lines are required for regular inspection. The remaining pipes are inspected less often. Furthermore, the expense of shutting pipes down to replace older pipes with new lines is not always practical when demand is an issue. Many operators will use a risk-based system for maintaining their pipelines, focusing safety efforts on the lines deemed most risky.

America's 2.5 Million miles of oil and gas pipelines
America’s 2.5 Million miles of oil and gas pipelines. courtesy of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Pipeline replacement, when it does happen, is an expensive endeavor. For example, power utility Xcel Energy, who owns and operates gas transmission pipelines in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, recently announced it is beginning a four-year, $69 Million dollar, 11.5 mile replacement effort of post-World War II gas pipelines. That is nearly $6 Million per mile. The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) a global trade group for the corrosion control industry, estimates that repairing or replacing corroded pipes costs oil and gas companies more than $7 billion a year. Consider the costs of lost productivity and revenues—plus cleanup costs from spills or leaks—and this figure probably doubles, said Kevin Garrity, the association’s recent past president.

corroded and leaking steel pipeline
The cost to replace corroded pipes, such as this leaking liquid petroleum pipeline, costs oil and gas companies between $7 Billion and $14 Billion in replacement costs, lost productivity and clean up expenses.

But what if pipeline replacement could be avoided if there was a more cost-effective alternative that was also a long-term repair solution? HJ3 Composite Technologies’ carbon fiber pipe repair systems are tested and approved according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standards for high pressure equipment and piping: Nonmetallic Composite Repair Systems for High and Low Risk Applications. HJ3’s carbon fiber is 10x the strength of steel, but a fraction of the weight plus it will not corrode. HJ3’s systems are extremely chemical-resistant as well, and because of their strength, typically require a 2-layer system which saves pipe owners 60% over replacement material and labor costs.HJ3’s steel pipe repair system was recently used to repair a leaking liquid petroleum (LP) pipe in Mexico. The pipe was 30 years old and had significant corrosion and leaking. After preparing the pipe’s surface per SSPC SP-10/NACE #2 guidelines, HJ3’s system was installed, and protected with a UV and chemical resistant top coat. The repair was completed in 2 days, saving the owner significantly.

HJ3's CarbonSeal pipeline repair system
HJ3’s CarbonSeal steel pipeline repair system was used to repair this leaking liquid petroleum pipe in just 2 days

As America’s oil and gas pipelines age and corrode, the safety of our people and our environment are of utmost importance. The same applies to pipelines around the globe. If 1 in 5 pipeline accidents in the U.S. are a result of corrosion and cost pipeline owners billions of dollars in clean up and litigation fees, cost-preventative inspections and cost-effective repair options are practical areas to focus on. Fortunately, technology exists that has satisfied decades of testing and is accepted by the world’s most credible agencies. Proven options are invaluable when making decisions that save lives and resources. To learn more about HJ3’s oil and gas steel pipeline repair solutions, or to speak with an HJ3 project manager for your specific pipeline repair, contact us at info@hj3.com, or on the phone at 1-877-303-0453.