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Pipeline explosions occur all too often these days, causing injury, property damage, inconvenient outages and sometimes can cause death. According to the National Transportation Safety (NTS) board, there are two main reasons why natural gas pipelines explosions occur: 1. mechanical failure and 2. rupture of the high-pressure natural gas line. Richard Peekema1 suggests that a gas leak from a weld crack or a corrosion pinhole could cause gas to accumulate in adjacent air space surrounding the pipe that could be accidentally exploded. All of these problems can produce enough kinetic energy to cause a pipeline explosion but they all can be prevented. With proper reinforcement and repair mechanical failures and gas leaks can be avoided as well as reinforce the pipelines for a greater pressure value.

Freezing temperatures have affected millions across the United States and Canada this winter. People are struggling to stay warm through these conditions, which becomes even more of a challenge when there are gas outages. Earlier this year, a Canadian pipeline exploded that was operated by TransCanada Corp. Flames shot up to 600ft and the fire burned for more than 12 hours. Immediately 4,000 residents and businesses lost supply to the natural gas. The gas outage lasted for three days leaving the 4,000 people without heat in their homes or businesses during a blizzard with extreme temperatures down to -20°F. An explosion this large has a large domino effect on the business owners that relied on gas for operation as well as residents in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota who were asked to reduce their natural gas consumption. In addition to the immediate damages, the pipeline explosion may have damaged other pipelines.
Gas Pipeline Explosion in Canada that left 4,000 residents without power. Photo Credit: PBS and ThinkProgressive 


In Kentucky, a gas pipeline explosion occurred around 1:00am on February 13, 2014. The pipeline, operated by Columbia Gulf Transmission, is buried 20ft below the surface and transmits gas from the Gulf of Mexico to New York. This pipeline is connected to almost every major pipeline system operating in the Gulf Coast. The blast left a crater, nearly 60ft deep, and flung rocks in the air as far as 150ft from the explosion site. The resulting fire could be seen from 25 miles away and set three homes ablaze, completely destroying two, burned four cars, and two barns. Some people were hospitalized and some came away with minor burns. The cause of the explosion is undetermined but likely due to one of the two reasons mentioned above. This and other similar explosions may have been prevented by utilizing HJ3’s CarbonSeal carbon fiber reinforcement system. The CarbonSeal pipe repair systems, when utilized as part of the gas company’s on-going maintenance program, are able to mitigate corrosion and therefore through-holes and cracks, and are approved for high-pressure, high-risk pipe repairs through ASME/PCC-2.
Gas Pipeline Explosion in Kentucky from 20 miles away.Photo Credit: NBC and Michael Clinkscales


HJ3’s CarbonSeal carbon fiber reinforcement systems are used to maintain and repair gas and oil pipelines all over the world in places like Boston, Alaska, California, Texas, Turkey, and Mexico, to name a few. These reinforcement systems strengthen the pipelines to withstand high pressures at a significant cost savings to the pipeline owners.  PEMEX recently conducted burst testing on HJ3’s CarbonSeal system, up to 5200 PSI, for which HJ3 was approved for all PEMEX pipeline repairs. Typical pressure within a gas pipeline ranges from 200 to 1,500 PSI depending on the area of the pipeline. If you own or operate a pipeline or have concerns about pipeline explosions and would like to learn more about HJ3’s carbon fiber reinforcement systems, contact our project managers today at hj3pm@hj3.com
Burst test for HJ3’s CarbonSeal carbon fiber system, shown to withstand 5200 PSI.

1- Peekema, R. (2013). ”Causes of Natural Gas Pipeline Explosive Ruptures.” J. Pipeline Syst. Eng. Pract., 4(1), 74–80.