Pipeline explosions in the United States occur at an alarming rate of three incidents every four days. Many of these are considered lower-level accidents that happen with great frequency within the oil and gas industry. Although lower-level, the pipeline industry calls these “significant pipeline incidents” as many destroy property, cause injury and even result in death. Since 1992, there have been 5,643 explosions that have resulted in fatalities, hospitalization, at least $50,000 in property damage, excessive release of liquids in the environment or unintentional fire or explosion, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). They calculate that these incidents have cost 373 human lives, and more than $6 billion in property damage over the last 20 years.
San Bruno, California natural gas pipeline explosion. Photo courtesy of The Christian Science Monitor
Many of these gas pipeline explosions can be prevented. There are currently around 2.5 million miles of oil, gas and other liquid pipelines in the U.S., and growing. An average of 280 incidents occur each year. Around 14 percent of these are due to impact from someone excavating unknowingly into a buried pipeline. Non-profit investigative news organization ProPublica, recently found that only 7 percent of natural gas lines and 44 percent of hazardous liquid lines are regularly inspected or subject to the PHMSA’s thorough inspection criteria. Many of these pipelines have significant corrosion and leaking, and need to be repaired.
An average of 280 pipeline explosions occur in the U.S. each year. Photograph courtesy of The Christian Science Monitor.
But how? Most traditional repair solutions include steel welding or pipe replacement altogether. The issue with steel is that it corrodes over time, and requires replacement or frequent repairs. Replacement is very costly in both material cost and lost production value to the pipe owner. But many of these pipeline owners are now aware of composite repairs for corroded pipelines as viable, and moreover, much more efficient solutions compared to traditional methods. Carbon fiber composites are approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in their standard for repairing pressure equipment and piping. The nice thing about carbon fiber is that it is 10x the strength of fiberglass systems, so less material is needed. The installation is quick, for minimal downtime. And the overall price is competitive. ASME/PCC-2 compliant HJ3 Composite Technologies CarbonSeal systems have been used to repair thousands of linear feet of pipe since the original standard was created in 2008. HJ3’s systems in particular save owners up to 90% on repairs compared to replacing their pipe.
U.S. pipeline explosions occur too frequently for comfort, especially knowing that many can be prevented. Regular inspections are key to solving this problem. And repairs with a long-term solution, such as carbon fiber systems, will cost less, can be performed quickly, and will not corrode for no future maintenance on a repaired section. If you have a pipeline you know or suspect is corroded, and would like to learn more about HJ3’s CarbonSeal industrial repair systems, contact our project managers at email@example.com.