GAO: Shale-Gas States Have No Idea Where Natural Gas Gathering Pipelines Are

Categories: Biz

pipeline map.jpg
Energy Information Administration
Now imagine gathering pipelines are included.
Speaking of urban drilling and gas releases in populated areas like Mansfield, the Government Accountability Office says the gathering pipelines used to collect natural gas from drill sites are unregulated, and their locations are often unknown.

The GAO conducted site visits in, among other places, the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The report is most interested in the shale gas boom and the attendant expansion of pipelines to carry that gas to market. It's a far safer means of conveyance than, say, some rig with better-than-good odds of wrecking on the highway, but it still merits more stringent oversight, the report says.

For example, of the 200,000 miles of onshore natural gas gathering pipelines, only 20,000 miles are regulated by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Now, that isn't to say that the Texas Railroad Commission doesn't regulate the industry (in fact, our rules are more stringent than the Feds') but "federal and state pipeline safety officials do not know the extent to which individual operators collect such information (safety risks, pipeline integrity, maintenance practices) and use it to monitor the safety of their pipelines."

The GAO thinks it's high time federal regulators put these mystery pipelines on the map. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts shale gas will make up nearly half of the country's natural gas supply in just over two decades. In 2009, it was only 16 percent of total supply. They've already lost control.

U.S. pipeline authorities are apparently contemplating collecting intelligence on unregulated gathering pipelines. They have the authority, but have been reluctant to do so (probably because it will be a massive pain in the ass). The Texas Oil and Gas Association, the report says, is supportive of increased oversight in heavily populated areas like North Texas' Barnett Shale.


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11 comments
WCGasette
WCGasette

Just interesting how this topic has stirred up very little in the way of comments.  See. It's one of the most critical components to this issue and it just doesn't have the star power. Truly, it's one of the most bizarre parts to this entire shale gas campaign. Getting people to just believe that it's simply a new "utility" going in. And there is nothing they can do short of suing. And people to the West have sued. And lost. Simply because there is not much in the way of precedent-setting cases. Oh, and the courts don't understand the issue. And the industry likes that just fine.  It's all in the details. And this is one of the details that will do us in unless it is addressed.

Pennywhistle
Pennywhistle

Operators provide as builts for new pipelines.  It's the old lines that have changed hands many times that there is not good information about.  

claytonauger
claytonauger

Citywide organizing meeting on Drilling in Dallas. 7 pm Tuesday March 27th, 2900 Live Oak - the Center for Community Cooperation - Oak room. The city council will be deciding under what circumstances to allow gas drilling in Dallas in the coming months. Don't be left out of the debate. 

Marc
Marc

The owners of natural gas pipelines do not know where their lines are located. A couple of years ago, near Cleburne, a water well driller was using a map showing the location of a natural gas pipeline so that he could avoid drilling into it. Unfortunately, the pipeline was located about 55 feet away from where the map he was supplied by the pipeline owner said it was, and he hit it.

The blast and fire charred his body while his wife and brother helplessly watched from nearby.

There is no integrity in the natural gas industry. They lie to citizens. They lie to elected officials. They lie to stockholders. They lie to themselves. In fact, it would be difficult to ever find them telling the truth, which is why they hide behind "trade secrets" and other machinations to avoid public disclosure of what they are doing.

If you want to know why you should be very afraid of natural gas pipelines then just go to http://fracdallas.org/docs/san... and read about what happened when a gas pipeline in San Bruno, California suddenly failed and exploded without ANY outside cause in 2010. Pipeline explosions have killed nearly 60 people in the US just since 2000, and they have accounted for huge sums of property losses. For the whole story on hydraulic fracturing and pipeline safety go to http://fracdallas.org/docs/saf....

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

 Gathering pipelines, I think what was once or in Oil is called flow pipe, runs from the well heads to collection sites or tank batteries all of which are on private lands within given leases.

Your not going to accidentally hit one if you dig a ditch in your yard or try and build in a public right of way.

This gas drilling issue seems to bring out very selected facets of the industry that taken out of context seem scary to the common man. The common man does not realize the sheer volume of energy required or money generated from all of our collective energy needs he just expects his AC to run in the summer and his heat to work in the winter or and if gasoline is more than three bucks he must be getting ripped off   

Whovian
Whovian

Did they ever find who was at fault when the workers down near Cleburne hit the pipeline a couple of years ago? I believe the drill operator was killed and 8 others were injured.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 http://www.texas811.org/about-...

In TEXAS Dial 811 .They know where they are and will be more than happy to mark the locations  for you .The Folks with underground pipes and wires really don't want people Punching holes in pipelines or ripping their  wire wires out of the ground .

Pedantist
Pedantist

Well, I'm sure that they have some idea.

pak152
pak152

@Marc tell us how you really feel about the evil corporations. 

as for fracdallas.org could you provide a more objective neutral site?


WCGasette
WCGasette

Gus M said:

[...]This gas drilling issue seems to bring out very selected facets of the industry that taken out of context seem scary to the common man.  [...]

How is it out-of-context to know that gas gathering pipelines have been forced on our neighborhoods in the public right of ways by our cities and our neighbors have been forced via eminent domain to give up their yards for these sales pipelines.  Pipelines that are for profit not for public use. Maybe you just haven't experienced any of this first hand. Look to the west, young man. 

The sun is setting on North Texas and it's getting murkier by the day.  Did you know that gas gathering pipelines leak all along their pathway to market? Is that out-of-context, too? I know it's out-of-control. The common man knows common sense better than the shale gas industry, Mr. Gus Man.  

Marc
Marc

The folks with underground pipelines and wires really DON'T know where their pipelines and wires are located. They have an approximate knowledge, but they cannot pinpoint the exact location, which is why all pipeline markers stipulate a range on either side of the sign in which you cannot drill or trench.

Unfortunately, they are NOT accurate much of the time, and it kills people when the industry makes mistakes, like it did the guy drilling a water well near Cleburne last year where the map showed a pipeline NOT to be, but it was! In fact, it was about 55 feet away from where the map claimed it would be. The subsequent accident killed the water well driller before the eyes of his wife and his brother who were watching helplessly from a short distance away.

We have had handheld and aircraft-mounted GPS receivers for a VERY long time, pre-dating the modern explosion in gas drilling, and there is absolutely no reason to ever miss an exact location of a pipeline by more than 3-5 feet, at worst. A lack of regulation is precisely why we don't know where explosion hazards lay near where we are.

One thing is certain - if you are there when one of those buried pipelines blows, then you are DEAD! Your debts are paid in full, and you have no enemies!

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