Aging US Gas Pipeline Infrastructure Raises Question: Who Should Pay for Lost Gas?
Keywords: Asset Integrity Management System, AIMS, Gas Pipelines, Safety, Reliability, Risk Management.
According to the US Department of Transportation's September 2012 Pipeline Safety Update, the role of pipeline operators in assuring pipeline safety is threefold; safely operating and maintaining pipelines, system expansion to meet needs, and recognizing and managing risks. However, an August 1, 2013 report prepared for Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts entitled, "America Pays for Gas Leaks," questions whether pipeline operators are fulfilling their mission as stakeholders in the natural gas distribution value network. The report claims pipeline operators have little incentive to replace aging cast iron and bare steel pipes that are subject to failure because gas distribution companies simply pass along the cost of lost gas to consumers. The report further states that not only are consumers paying billions of dollars for unused natural gas; leaks jeopardize public health, and contribute to climate change.
Aging Infrastructure Is the Culprit
The US natural gas distribution network consists of more than two mil-lion miles of distribution mains and service pipelines. Moving product through the value chain introduces significant risk to personnel and the environment. Pipelines are generally considered the safest means to deliver natural gas throughout the supply chain, but several catastrophic incidents in recent memory has cast a pall on an otherwise impressive safety record.
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