Today, a marine pipeline incident costs an average of at least US$1 million to repair, excluding reputational damage and the incalculable costs of injury or death, rendering infrastructure protection increasingly important. Numerous oil and gas companies are addressing the challenge of marine pipeline protection through policies and procedures that can now be augmented by the use of Automatic Identification System (AIS)-based vessel-tracking tools. These tools enable companies to proactively monitor and control encroachment on marine pipelines, helping to pre-empt problems before they occur. As organisations deploy these tools for pipeline protection, they are also extending their use to include monitoring and preventing encroachment and damage to a broader range of infrastructure, including subsea cable and other remote un-manned assets.
A critical priority
Ever since drilling began in 1859 at thefirst commercial oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania, pipelines have played an increasingly important role in petroleum as well as other industries. America’s pipeline network continues to meet the growing need for a safe, reliable, efficient and economical means of transporting oil and other products from far-away supply centres. The challenges relating to the protection of pipeline infrastructure are well documented. During the past 20 years, marine pipeline and vessel interactions have resulted in $120 million in pipeline damages (not counting the cost of lost or damaged vessels), more than 100,000 barrels of product released into the environment, 29 fatalities, and 35 injuries. To protect people and the environment from these threats, US Congress created the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) in 1968 to oversee and implement pipeline safety regulations. Today, this function is housed in the Department of Transportation (DOT) under the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Companies must adhere to PHMSA mandates including the 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 192 relating to the transportation of natural and other gas by pipeline, and Part 195 which relates to the transportation of hazardous liquids by pipeline.