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Topic 48: Safety issues during transportation and distribution of oil and gas.

Transportation and distribution are two sectors of industry which should also be mentioned regarding safety issues applied there. Many incidents are indicating that there is a need of some improvements in practices applied so far. So, my suggestion is to discuss this topic further.
Recorded incidents provide important information regarding hazardous events for example like oil spills, which usually are caused at terminals or by vessels’ leakage. These are damaging the environment and may even cause human losses. Also, these accidents are damaging the reputation of companies which usually have to deal with extra costs of oil recovery and compensations. Sometimes vessels and crews are faced with piracy which is not a random failure event. Also, terrorists could target pipelines and vessel as the potentially flammable material enables huge explosions. In these occasions safety problems are caused by criminal activity of some groups of people and not by random failures. Such dangerous conditions are unpredicted and in case of being attacked the destiny of the crew, the vessel and the containing fluids is unknown.
Offshore and onshore pipelines are also sometimes hazardous. According to many incidents demonstrating the fact that humanity has encountered many problems caused either by failure of the equipment or by criminal and in some cases by political activity. In these cases the potential victims are also the people working in these facilities, the surrounding area and definitely the company exploiting the entire facility. But there is a significant difference between supplying fuels to a specific area and to the entire country, in terms of relying on the pipeline or the vessel as the only energy source. The pipeline has the property of constant flow which means that consumers are depending on this kind of energy supply, in contrast with tankers, where is some kind of flexibility related to product delivering. Thus these damages, explosions, sabotages or even closed valves after the decision of operators of the pipelines reflect to the energy reliability of dependent consumers.


Transportation and distribution are two sectors where safety play major role. Tankers are carrying huge volumes of hydrocarbons every single day, travelling around the world and targeting the on time delivery. Safety issues associated with these means of transport are very important for owners, contractors, transporters, stakeholders and obviously the environment.
Torrey Canyon: 18 March 1967 on Saturday’s morning, the Torrey Canyon (a single-hull tanker) ran aground on Pollard's Rock between Land's End and the Isles of Scilly. The ship was chartered by BP. The crude oil spilled carried by this supertanker of 300 m length was approximately 120,000 tons. This was the biggest oil spill at that time. The Italian captain was blamed for stranding the vessel on well-known reefs. After so many years this oil spill still affects the surrounding environment killing wildlife on a daily basis.
Coast line of 120 miles was polluted and it is estimated that 15,000 birds were killed. Also, marine life was significantly affected killing many species, as the surface of the water was covered disabling the sun light and the oxygen supply.
In attempt to sink the vessel 42 bombs were dropped but one firth missed the target. Other attempts were also unsuccessful. Foam barriers took a lot of time to be assembled and rough sea activity disabled easily this effort. 42 vessels sprayed 10,000 tons of chemicals onto the floating oil in order to emulsify and disperse it, but this only increased to toxicity of the area. Next attempt was to burn the oil by utilizing aviation fuels but this was also unsuccessful due to hide tides. Finally, Napalm was applied and the resultant fire was huge and the smoke visible from miles away.
So there was still oil spilled which had to be removed and there was an idea of placing it in a quarry. This was not very good idea as this used to be German armament dump, when they had occupied the island during the Second World War. Thus after some efforts to clean this place in ‘80 and more recently, there is still crude oil causing wildlife deaths. This place was considered dangerous for recovery activity. Nowadays there should not be oil any more as in 2010 was decide to pump micro-organism for whom the oil is food and these would have eaten the oil by the end of that year.
 Unfortunately, there was not legislation associated with this kind of events in 1967, as this was the first massive disaster and the response to such incidents was not developed. This is the worst Britain’s oil spill with one member of Dutch salvage member killed.   

Information available on Guardian’s web site:
Also, some information included are provided on BBC’s web site:

Neil Fraser James Carr's picture

Sergios defined the Torrey Canyon in detail, in review I would like to say that the Marine regulations have evolved over time and are becoming among the most stringent and arduous of any transportation means with regular flag surveys and regulations to be met and vessels requiring dry dock inspections and crew undergoing competence analysis prior to any charter. The navigational errors that occurred for the Torrey Canyon are purely Human error and indicative of a time where minimum manning and a lack of electronic intervention were available. Means for oil recovery and techniques involved are also of a level now to mitigate the effects of such a spill as was shown post macondo.



[1] (Accessed 27/11/2012)

 [2] (Accessed 27/11/2012)


I would like also to comment on the progress made after some major accidents. These vessels’ disasters resulted in majority’s consideration and the common concern. Thus, these accidents contributed to the creation of new and effective industries. These are involving environmentalists, scientists and experts working on oil spill responses. Also in many countries fishermen are trained and financially supported by oil industries to respond immediately in case of future disasters. Relevant legislations have also been developed through recent years. The Exxon Valdez incident resulted in the establishment of comprehensive marine pollution prevention rules (MARPOL & IOPP) by International Maritime Organization (IMO). The detailed measures and practices that should be avoided were introduced increasing the safety and reducing the consequences. These rules were adopted massively by Member countries and according to International Ship Management Rules the ships are operated commonly in the way of safer ships which lead to cleaner oceans. Finally, one of the measures for instance is ban directed to single-hulled tankers. According to this legislation such vessels are not allowed to approach the coast of many countries for more than certain miles.

Times Topics:

Adejugba Olusola's picture

The legislation and standards governing the transportation of oil & gas products has evolved in a similar way to other areas of the oil & gas industry and most importantly, lessons have been learnt from those unfortunate accidents/disasters. Sergio has mentioned some of the rules developed as a result of those disasters.

A ready example is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974. The international maritime safety treaty details special requirements for tankers. Fire and Safety provisions are made more stringent due to the risk of fire on board ships carrying oil & gas products.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) whose major function is to make shipping of all types safer, notes the underlisted global cause of large-scale oil spills involving tankers:

  • Technical failures,           

  • Grounding

  • Collisions

  • Fires & Explosions{1}

Following industry standards, approved code of practice or best practices should be a starting point to preventing potential disasters.



Adejugba Olusola

Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

As Mr Salavasidis mentioned in the introduction, one way to transport crude oil from a drilling site offshore to a storage tank onshore or from one refinery to another is achieved by oil tankers. The same applies to the petroleum products transportation generally from a place to another by sea.

Last years has been appeared a serious issue for the safety of the oil tankers and crews which is commonly known as piracy. This phenomenon has risen mostly at sea waters around countries with huge percentages of unemployment and poverty. The most dangerous waters are considered those off Somalia at the Gulf of Aden, the Strait of Malacca among Malaysia and Sumatra and the Gulf of Guinea. Pirates usually hijack loaded oil tankers along with the ship crews and request money from the owner companies in order to exchange their releasement. But in many cases this situation has led into casualties either from the crew or from the attackers side and loss of shipment.

One proposed action to confront piracy which finally has been organised by the EU Naval forces is the joint Operation Atalanta in Gulf of Aden with positive outcome. However, it is only a local measure and cannot work globally due to the high operations cost. To my mind, the best counter measure is hiring and boarding on the ship armed security guards in order to prevent a possible take over and its implications for the crew, the shipment and the company.


As Mr Sevasteiadis mentioned there is a requirement of safety measures to encounter illegal activity that endangers great volumes of oil and gas.

In this part of this blog I would like to discuss a possible measure to increase the safety of vessels carrying huge quantities of hydrocarbons in areas considered dangerous due to criminal activity. This is usually occurring due to terror activity or may even be caused by poverty of several regions where hijacking is potential way to earn money. Hence the safety issues become essential, when focusing on great volumes of oil being in danger.

The weapon MK 15 Phalanx is believed to be able to protect the ships from air and water attack. This is actually an automotive system which is focusing on potential targets without the involvement of human operators. The literal description of the weapon process as defined by Military Academy Network is as follow “detection, threat evaluation, acquisition, track, firing, target destruction, kill assessment and cease fire” [1]. This military gun equipped with computer software used to protect the US Navy when potential hazards had penetrated other more common methods of defense.

While reading other sources I came across with statements that this defense system is inefficient to prevent missiles during simultaneous massive attack from different angles. Also, there were provided some incidents where this weapon failed to define the target properly or just missing the target. But generally this weapon is located on boards of the majority of war ships [2].
Finally, I would like to hear your opinion about this method. What are the possible positive or negative effects, in case of its installment to oil and gas carrying ships? Will this defense system be sufficient to provide safety?

References: Information available on the following web sites:

In previous post Mr. Sevasteiadis mentioned some dangerous areas. Thus in the following post I will refer to an incident related to one of these.

The Maritime Jewel commonly known as Limburg before the incident in the Gulf of Aden (Yemen). The Limburg was a double-hull oil tanker built in 2000. The 332 meters long ship was registered under French-flag and chartered by petroleum company Petronas. On 6th October 2002 the vessel was transporting 397,000 barrels of crude oil from Iran to Malaysia. Located offshore in the Gulf of Aden for additional load the tanker’s crew experienced an attack by explosives laden boat. The Al Qaeda members took the responsibility for this attack through media.
The fire caused by TNT explosives killed a 38 year old vessel’s crew member and injured other 12. The volume of oil spilled into the Aden Gulf was estimated about 90,000 barrels. The damaged vessel was towed to Dubai and in 2003 after repairing it was sold to Tanker Pacific under the new name Maritime Jewel. This incident caused very serious concerns about the safety in these areas. Also, there was observed a short term collapse of international shipping. It is considered that the attack was targeting Western commercial interests. The immediate impacts were increased insurance and obviously oil and gas costs.

Information available on following web sites:

faizakhatri's picture


in line with Sergios Salavasidis i need to add some more point Transferring  stream fluid  from offshore  field  (when it  has been discovered) to refinery(where it can processed in two ways either by pipeline or ship Tank and it has high risk particularly they relate to environmental issues such as  fires, oil spills, and oil leaks which need  good design and proper handling with care ultimately  need very large capital investment also  true extent and recoverable reserves of the with the assumption that a technical and Considering the multi-million capital investment has a limited time frame  to get production early as possible Under such conditions it is economically possible to select a marine transportation to nearest on shore terminal  along with SPM is a good option  it provide cost effective route from their platform to on shore  single point mooring (SPM) is a loading buoy anchored offshore that serves as a mooring point and interconnect for tankers loading or offloading fluids (crude oil )to ship tanks or pipeline to minimise level of risk Available at: After refining of fluid it can be transfer processed fluid from one place to other by tank truck or railroad tank car. Since it carry hazardous material so for ensuring safety and  minimize accident-caused releases railroad Tank Car Safety examines the overall process for ensuring tank car design safety and, more specifically, whether all tank cars carryng hazardous materials should be equipped with special safety devices, known as head shields, to prevent tank car head (end) punctures  Faiza khatri M.Sc oil and gas engineering 

t01sik12's picture

I solely agree with all that is said. Tankers and pipelines are most likely used for transportation of oil. They are very vulnerable. Tankers are too slow and cumbersome to manoeuvre away from attackers; they don’t have any protection and they have nowhere to hide.

Pipelines, through which about 40% of world’s oil flows are less vulnerable, they are the most efficient method to transport oil and refined products. A simple explosive device would puncture the line and make it useless, they are very long pipes and as a result of this make it difficult to protect. This makes pipelines potential targets for terrorists. Pipelines are safe. From my findings we’ve had a decrease of 60% in Nigeria from 2000. Pipelines also generally have a better safety record (death, injuries, fires/explosions) than other modes of transportation.

The Risk associated with energy supply is scary and there is a limit it can be dealt with. Energy independence would minimize the need to transport oil and as a result of this reduce the attacks.




Samuel Kanu

Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

As it is mentioned above, another way to transfer crude oil and refined products from one place to another is a pipeline. The crude oil is transfered from the drilling site to the gathering stations and then to the refineries. Then the petroleum products are transfered from the refineries and the ports to the consumption centres. This is a very general view of how the system works. An emerging threat for the safety of these pipelines appears when they pass through countries or specific areas where there is political instability or high poverty percentage.

Despite the fact that they are regarded as the least risky way of transportation, as Mr Kanu mentioned previously, many times during the last decades they were under terrorist attacks causing distribution interruption and environmental impacts. In some countries where poverty percentage across the population is significant there has been observed that people try to open holes on the pipeline in order to steal fuel for their use or sell it. Unfortunately, the result usually is explosions of the pipelines with the cost of many human losses, like happened in Lagos on 26/12/2006 on Abule Egba pipeline with hundrends of casualties.

There are not so many measures that could be taken in order to avoid similar situations because of the huge area that needs to be covered for the pipeline protection. To my mind, a low cost solution could be the placing of security cameras and guards at critical locations to act as a deterrent.


Ahmed_Abdelkhalek's picture

I agree that not much can be done to protect the lengthy pipelines against terrorist attacks; however the risks associated with pipeline explosions can be minimized by sectionalizing the pipelines by introducing valves at certain spacing. When an explosion happens, closing these valves will limit the amount of oil that is discharged out to the environment and subsequently environmental damages are minimized. This approach has long been adopted in onshore pipelines but made its way to subsea somewhat recently.
Definitely subsea pipelines are much safer than tankers not only for being hard to reach but also because if an oil spill happens it will be much less than that from a tanker.


The ways to transport oil and gas normally include traffic
transportation and pipeline transportation. The analysis on the features of
accidents is helpful to develop corresponding precautionary measure. Accidents of
traffic transportation mainly occur in LNG tank trucks for long distance and
oil tank trucks for short distance. According to statistics, the time from 3AM
to 6AM is accident-prone period and the tank truck transportation accidents
caused by traffic accidents accounts for 85%. Restricted by road passing
condition and geological surrounding, a large number of collision accidents
happen and the probability of leakage could reach 82.7%.  Accidents of pipeline transportation
primarily result from natural disaster and mechanical failure at initial stage
of production. At the late stage, the accident sources mainly cover artificial
destruction and degradation and corrosion of pipelines.

Henry Tan's picture

You may consider uploading the photo image for debating?

On 24th March 1989 in the Prince William Sound Alaska the Exxon Valdez a single-hull oil tanker spilled approximately 260,000 barrels of crude oil due to running aground. This oil spill was the largest ever in US until the incident of Deepwater Horizon.
The area is remote and the access in terms of immediate response was possible only through air and water. This fact made the efforts very difficult. The oil covered 1,300 miles of coastline and 11,000 square miles of ocean, damaging seriously the natural habitat of many species.
According to the official report the ship was carrying approximately 55 million US gallons or 1,500,000 barrels. There was a disagreement regarding the overall volume spilled as the calculations were performed in accordance with the remaining oil recovered from the tanker. For this reason some groups claimed that there was also sea water content. Despite that there was not provided a precise number quantifying the spill size. The only information is that the volume leaked was between 11 and 32 million US gallons.
The factors contributed this disaster are provided below:
1)    The Exxon Shipping Company did not manage to supervise the captain and ensure the rested and sufficient crew. Safety recommendations were delivered to the Company by National Transportation Safety Board as there was widespread observation of such practices.
2)    The vessel was navigated by the third mate as the captain was confirmed to be drunk and asleep by the time of incident. The third mate failed in his operations trying to maneuver the vessel possibly due to fatigue or excessive load.
3)    The radar was out of order and it supposed to be maintained from previous sail.
According to MIT course of Software System Safety there were additional factors resulting in this incident.
1)    The tanker’s crew was not informed about ceased of usual practice provided by Coast Guard which was tracking ships out of Bligh reef.
2)    The iceberg monitoring system was not installed despite that the company had promised to do it.
3)    Sailing out of normal sea lane in order to avoid icebergs which evidentially were in the area.
4)    The crew was the half of that supposed and hence people had been working for many ours exceeding the normal working day duration.
5)    The inspection of the tanker was not done in Valdez by Coast Guard. Also there was lack of equipment for immediate response to oil spills.

The environment and its habitats were suffering for many years. The company paid approximately 1 billion USD according to Times Topics while the initial cost of fine was higher. But I think there is no point discussing about the fines and compensations while there are great environmental disasters caused by these failures and the polluted area remains in this condition for many years no matter if it is not seen any more.

Times Topics:

Ikechukwu Onyegiri's picture

Natural gas, a hydrocarbon fuel, is usually piped directly from a gas well to the end consumer, never being stored locally in large amounts. Nowadays due to the ever eerging market for gas as much as 50,000 tons can be liquefied and put aboard ships for transport. The dangers and possible disasters that might be incurred by this mode of transportation shouldn't be taken likely. Firstly, in this form it is hazardous if it escapes by accident from its container, spilling onto ground or water and turning very rapidly into gaseous form, whereupon it will mix with aire and then burn if ignited. By this nature LNG import terminals are industrial hazardous facilities which could experience accidental fires which could cause health and environmental dangers.

Also because of the combustion characteristics of natural gas physical hazards such as LNG flammable vapour clouds. On LNG escape it occupies the region above air because it is lighter. This not only poses a fire risks but an asphyxiation hazard environment. Though LNG vapour cloud is not toxic it could cause asphyxiation by displacing breathable air. 

By far the ever challenging risk which faces LNG transport is terrorism. Tankers may be physically attacked in a variety of ways to destroy their cargo or commandeered to use as weapons against coastal targets. Also computer controlled systems face thedanger of cyber-attack.

Though LNG tankers can be viewed as floating dynamites various initiatives have been taken to ensure safe transportation. For example in the USA, initiatives such as the Coastal Guard Maritime Security Activities, the Federal Pipeline Safety and Security Agencies, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and National Fire Protection Association have been put in placeto ensure that these hazardous scenarios don't come into play in LNG transport.

[1] Public Safety Issues at the Proposed Pleasant Point LNG Terminal by James Foy

[2] Accessed 29th November 2012


Ikechukwu Onyegiri

Msc Oil and Gas Engineering

Derek Porter.'s picture

Hi. I have assessed your post and I agree that the stringent safety procedures are making this industry a safe one. Some floating LNG vessel have been regarded as ‘floating bombs’ although the facts suggest More than 135,000 LNG carrier voyages have taken place without major accidents or safety or security problems, either in port or at sea (1). A major ignition incident can only occur under 3 conditions; a release, an ignition and the right concentration of LNG vapor in the air (5% – 15%).

Furthermore, the first transit across the arctic, one of the harshest environments in the world has begun (2). In my opinion this record has to be a good indication on the safety of LNG transportation. This risk now comes when companies take this into context and reduce costs and attention possibly increasing risk of incident.


Ikechukwu Onyegiri's picture

In relation to safety and gas transport the above incident reported on the 8th October 2012 on a major highway in central China's Hunan province which killed five people and destroyed several vehicles. This goes after several attempts to review LPG transport via major highways by trucks.

Reports have it that the tanker didn't rupture after it overturned but ruptured later, probably due ti LPG heating up and expanding. The accident was ruled as a simple LPG expansion front caused from lost of containment and vapourization rather than an explosion. Though reason for ignition was unknown one must imagine the magnitude this kind of event could have in the city area. The threats and hazards posed by trucking of LPG is really one that requires proper legislation review in countries like China. Though this might not be the case in other giant economies such as the UK and the USA, I don't feel trucking is a bad idea to move fuel around. I mean gasoline poses more risk from trucking than LPG and though most environmental activists are against it we must realise that energy economics especially in countries like China with its vast population must seek affordable and flexible ways to fuel its demand.

LPG and LNG accidents have had serious fatalities all the way from the storm sewer system spill in Cleveland, Ohio in 1944 which claimed 128 lives to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge pipeline explosion which resulted on 23 known fatalities in 2004. Other accidents include the gas blast that flattened a strip club in New England, Massachusetts injuring 18 people (November 2012), the LNG underground pipeline explosion in Nigeria (2005)




Ikechukwu Onyegiri

Msc Oil and Gas Engineering

In this post I will present another disaster but there is an aspect which the readers should mention. This was the fear of many developed countries due to the upcoming disaster which made these countries inertial. Prestige is the name of single-hull, 243m long, Greek operated oil tanker. It was sailing under Bahamas flag and insured in the UK. The vessel was laden approximately 77,000 metric tons of two different types of heavy oil. On 13th November 2002 one of the twelve ship’s tanks leaked due to damage which occurred because of storm. The ship was located in Galicia northwestern Spain when experiencing this hard weather conditions. The captain in attempt to save the ship asked for help considering that Spain’s rescue team would tow the tanker to the nearest harbor. However, the captain was forced by local authorities to navigate the embattled tanker away from coastline keeping northwest direction. Then French government forced the captain to change direction towards Portuguese waters in order to protect their coast. Portuguese authorities sent their naval forces to prevent further approach of the damaged tanker.
All these countries refused to provide their ports. At the meantime there was further damages caused to the ship and finally after six days the tanker was split into two parts. Hence, on the afternoon of 19th November the tanker sank releasing approximately 76,000 cubic meters of oil. The location of the disaster was reported about 250km from Spanish coast. After some hours the spilled oil reached the coast.
The Greek captain was arrested for not co-operating with salvage crew and causing environmental pollution. The area is considered very important region from ecological point of view consisting natural habitat for many species. Also, the area used to be major fishermen destination.
In conclusion, there was a statement that this disaster would be prevented or limited if one of these countries would provide some assistance. I agree with this statement in terms of the fact that an immediate response would mitigate the resultant. This could be done by other vessels smaller size and more flexible which could pump the oil into their tanks. Possibly this would endanger their coast line but analyzing the incident we can see that the coast line was affected no matter that they tried to turn away the damaged ship.


farman oladi's picture

Through my short experiences on board oil platforms and mother vessels in the Persian Gulf  ,   although single point mooring ( SPM ) used as  loading and offloading ,  mainly for crude oil are very effective  when port facilities are limited or not available , however there are some disadvantages which in my view some of them are as follows :·         During any emergency stoppage of the operation, there is always risk of time limitation to avoid oil leaks by completely shutting off the rubber hoses used for connection to tankers manifold.·         In case of any possible accidents especially fire hazards there are only one or two tug boats available to help for firefighting operation.·        The rubber hoses are usually easily damaged through crew boat and ship personnel handling or by floating on the surface under harsh conditions at sea. Therefore frequent inspection of the hoses are required to insure their safety to avoid any oil leaks .·        Not using a Metering System is an added negative point for such operations.

Menelaos Michelakis's picture

There are many issues regarding gas transportation, beyond the dangers associated with ships carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG). Of course accidents such as oil leakages, mentioned in the discussion above are something very important. Regarding piracy i believe that the oil companies are making so much money that at least could protect their ships - i am not taking about pipelines.

Other issues, that are not yet mentioned in this conversation have to do with the purification of gas. Of course they regard safety. Heterocomponents, especially water and H2Smust be removed. The gas must be dried, and specifically in environments such as the North Sea otherwise hydrates will form. Certain substances are used to prevent hydrate formation, but constant use increases costs, so drying the gas is very important. In case the gas is sour (>2%H2S), it must be treated because H2S is extremely corrosive for all metallic parts including all kinds of valves and pipelines.

Something else that increases safety is the characteristic smell that gas has and is added, so in case of a leakage, humans can sense the smell and correct the problem. I think all these increase safety significantly, regarding mostly transportation with pipelines.

Ref: N.Pasadakis (2006): Physicochemical characterisation of energy resources

Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

Yesterday morning, Friday 30/11/12, there was an accident in Paulsboro of New Jersey where a train carrying vinyl chloride derailed after a bridge collapsed. The result, according to the local authorities, was a gas leakage of about 80 tonnes in the atmosphere, more than 60 people to the hospital with respiratory problems and some of the tank wagons in the river.

Vinyl chloride is the main raw material for fabricating PVC and vynil products and human exposure to this for a short period causes problems to the central nervous system while a long period exposure could lead in liver malfunction and damage or even cancer.

One question generated here is what if the cargo was a more toxic and dangerous material. The impacts for the people's safety and the environment would be much more extensive and critical for sure. Another major question is whether safety regulations were followed during this bridge's rebuild after it buckled and caused another derail back in 2009. To my mind, it should be considered as another accident happened due to lack of responsibility from the human side as its rebuild finished just 2 years ago.


Adejugba Olusola's picture

Thanks for drawing attention to this incident Michail. It is a shame such incidents are still happening.

It has been reported the transportation of oil & gas or hazardous substances as in this case by rail in tank wagons is no more reliable than transportation by pipeline or tanker. Main factors identified as the reason for accidents and incidents resulting in the leaking of petroleum products or hazardous substances from railway tank wagons include:

  • Infringements of regulations concerned with transportation and handling of such hazardous substances - simply put, breaking the law.

  • Human error and bad management

  • Derailments, as a result of unfavourable weather conditions

  • Train collisions

  • Mechanical impact on trains

  • Collapsing bridges

  • Sparking, with the subsequent ignition of the contents of the wagon{1}

I guess another factor to add is failure to learn lessons. The same bridge involved in this accident buckled in 2009 and 9 wagons carrying coal were derailed but no toxic chemicals were spilled. Officials attributed the initial accident to bridge misalignment{2}. Seems to me there are recurring themes in these two accidents without prejudicing the investigation.

The consequences of these hazardous product spills and leakages can include fire & explosion, contamination of soil, water and air as well as human fatalities in some cases.




Adejugba Olusola

victor.adukwu's picture

Pipeline is a safe and reliable mode of transportation and distribution of oil and gas. It is also an economical and dependable mode of transportation particularly to the sensitive and strategic areas where vessels cannot access easily. It provides a long term infrastructural option and solves difficulties in handling large volume of products by rail from one loading point to another and therefore reduces minimum transit loss.
Technically, safety issues related to the transportation of oil and gas should be taken care of, during the design and installation stage by recommended code and standard like ASME, API, DNV and ISO, although they all have different safety factor with DNV codes been the most stringent. These code and standards usually address issues arising from occasional load, operational load, thermal expansion load etc and road/railway crossing.
The safety issues that arise during transportation and distribution of oil and gas are mainly due to human factors. These factors could be negligence of maintenance personnel, terrorist attack, activities of non engineering professional around an oil and gas facility etc.

YAKUBU ABUBAKAR 51126107's picture

Transportation of oil and gas product more especially the
refine product (petrol, diesel) mainly from refinery and petrochemical plant in
Nigeria for example was done using two main method, pipelines and tankers

Both methods poise a serious health and safety issues over
the years with an estimate of over 200 deaths every year according to NEMA (National
Emergency Management Agency Nigeria).

Pipeline challenges:

 Not all
the pipelines are completely burred to the ground and the buried ones are near
residential buildings that on several occasions leaks and cause contamination
to drinking water in the nearby water wells.

The expose pipes are attack by the vandals on a
daily basis there by causing a serious spillage and occasional fire explosion that
claims a number of life every year.

Subsea pipelines rapture occasionally due to
loss of integrity as a result of ageing and others that can lead to serious environmental
problems to the sea dwellers.


and Cargo Challenges:

1.       Because
most of the refineries are located away from the towns and cities it would require
a tankers (truck) to transport the product and on a daily basis the trucks got
involve in accident due to brake failure or other related mechanical failures
that result in a huge fire accident that can destroy life and properties.


2.       Sometimes
leakages can cause fire and other related issues.


3.       In
the offshore there may be weather issues that can cause the cargo to derail and
can lead to serous environmental problems if it leaks to the sea and security
issues due to pirate while on transit that can cause harm to the crew and loss
of revenue.

Yakubu Abubakar

Oil and Gas Engr.

Azeezat's picture

Transportation, distribution and
storage in the oil and gas industry pertains to the movement of crude oil from
the oil fields (where oil has been discovered) to petroleum refineries (where
the oil is further processed) to storage areas, where the petroleum products
are stored for distribution and emergency reserves. In its raw state, crude oil
is transported by two primary modes: tankers, which travel interregional water
routes, and pipelines where most of the oil moves through for at least part of
the route. Once the oil has been refined and separated from natural gas,
pipelines transport the oil to another carrier or directly to a refinery.
Petroleum products then travel from the refinery to market by tanker, truck,
railroad car, or more pipelines.

With transportation of oil and
gas by tanker, the safety issues relate to the potential for a significant
environmental pollution in cases where the tanker capsizes or is run aground
losing its hydrocarbon containment. In addition, recent events involving piracy
activities with sea going tankers can lead to the risk of kidnap of personnel
on the crude tankers.

For pipelines where the transport system is
routed within urban areas, the loss of containment of such pipelines due to
corrosion, poor integrity management practices, or in situation where the
pipelines is subjected to bunkering activities as in cases in some developing
countries can lead to significant environmental pollution and/or multiple

Siwei Kang's picture

This is a good topic but wide. Here I want to focus on transportation of oil and gas. In general, the trannportation can be categorized as many parts. In order to discuss it more easier, I want to illustrate three aspects as follows.

The first is how to deal with the volatility. During
the storage and transportation of oil and gas from the oil fields to
oil plant,  oil and gas loss is a very serious
problem, and most of it happens in the dump.
oil and gas is in the presence of the highly volatile organic material. Some proportion of oil and gas will inevitably volatilize into the atmosphere
to cause destruction and pollution to the environment.
a large number of evaporation happen, it will make the air flammable, which is easy to cause
Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the dump station.

The second one is corrsion problem. Corrosion of the pipeline is one of the major oil storage and transportation pipeline accident. Three reasons are the main cause of the corrosion. (1) pipeline's environment. Because
the pipeline is buried in the soil for a long time, the soil
resistivity, moisture content, pH, and sulfide could be the reasons. Therefore, choosing appropriate
anti-corrosion materials and conducting a comprehensive test are vital.
(2) anti-corrosion measures. Increasing the corrosion protective layers, and cathodic protection are two common method. (3) stress levels. It has been proved that when the material level of stress beyond its limit the stress, the material will rupture.(4) inappropriate production operation is another reason of corrsion. Normally, hydrocarbons will be dewatered to be a certain level before transportation. But if the operation is incorrect, which makes water transported with hydrocarbons in pipeline, this could be cause corrsion.

The thrid one is accident. Effective protection for pipeline and oil tank is essential, especially for onshore pipeline. In some region, oil theft action happens frequently, which has huge impact for pipeline safety. Therefore, building pipeline walking regulation is vital for operators. On the other hand, in view of the flammability, oil and gas storage sites should be selected on the downwind direction in the high population density region. Oil tank constuction should consider the impact of earthquake.

Anyway, there are a lot of safety measurement need to be set up or considered for oil and gas transportation. 

Tianchi You's picture

Normally, there are 4 major ways to transport oil worldwide, which are tranported by pipeline, oil vessel, railway and oil tank truck. I want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages in there 4 ways.

1. Pipeline

It is economic, efficient, safe and convenient ;furtheremore, it is not affected by the weather and can be managed automatically. Generally speaking, the 720mm diametral pipeline has the ability to transport 20million tons crude oil in one year, which is the total capacity of one railway. Not only efficient and economic advantages, but also it does not need too much land and it is not affected by the geographic inconvenience, and it does cause pollution to the environment. Therefore, it is the best option to transport the oil. However, there are several drawbacks of pipeline. Firstly, it takes long time to construct it and manage it; consequently, the high risk behind the construction and huge investment need to be considered. Secondly, it can only transport the only thing which means the transportation is not flexible.

2.Oil vessel

Ocean shipping is the most important way to transport the exported and imported oil. It has the advantages of high-efficiency, cheap transportation and high-trafficability. It is estimated that ocean shipping takes half percentage in worldwide oil transportation. However, the ocean shipping may be affected by the weather , the policy and it has the specific way to transport, otherwise the costs may be too much.

3.Railway transportation

Railway transportation is an important and useful supplement to ocean shipping and pipeline transportation, it is very flexible. Once the provision from ocean shipping and pipeline is not available, the railway transportation will accommodate as soon as possible. However, compared with the other 2 ways, the cost of transportation is relatively higher and capacity is lower.

4. Oil tank truck

Oil tank truck can transport oil in first time and it is the most flexible compared with other kinds of transportation. However, the risk is the highest. Firstly, the accident will result in big disaster , not only cause huge damage to property and may influence people's lives, but also it will be harmful to the environment. Secondly, it needs the driver to pay attention on it every moment. In that case, it needs a lot human resource.



Tianchi You


Oil&gas engineering

Savitha Haneef's picture

The transportation of oil and gas throughout the world to meet our energy demands involves many risks and hazards.The most safest and economical way of transportation is indeed pipelines, if they are properly maintained and operated .Above ground , under water and underground pipelines transports vast amount of oil & gas.The safety issue I am raising here is ageing of pipes.Normally they are designed for 20- 25 years. But in mature market like north sea there is a high chance of overshooting this design life.Another risk to be considered is trawlers coming in contact with existing subsea infrastructure such as pipelines.These activities causes damage to the pipe lines and the consequences are huge .

The next method to transport is by ocean tankers and barges.They are designed to carry large loads of oil& reduce the transport cost.Here collision and grounding are the most most common accidents and in most cases the accidents are caused by human factors and technical factors.The highest risk associated with this is at the time of offloading from FPSOs.The hazards are close approach, dp failure,miscommunication,external factors etc.Although negligible , another risk to be considerd are the shell cracks and deformation of these tanks.

Savitha Haneef
MSC Safety & Reliability Engineering

Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

Ms Haneef mentioned in her post about the serious issue of pipeline safety due to ageing. A pipeline operator is responsible for assuring a safe hydrocarbon transportation throughout the design life of the pipeline and in order to achieve a life extension, there should have an integrated management on the pipeline. That is to successfully deal with all the possible threats for the pipeline's integrity like corrosion, mechanical damage, possible defects due to materials used or construction phase, earth forces like earthquake of ground recession, operations, and any other conditions. 




Transportation of oil and gas is one of the main fields in oil and gas industry. Crude Oil has to be transported to petroleum refineries, the refined petroleum products are to be transported to the market. There are two primary modes of transportation of crude oil: tankers and pipelines. Tankers travel through water routes. There are two types of pipeline system subsea pipelines and onshore pipelines. Refined petroleum products are transported through road using trucks. There are many safety issues related to these transportation facilities. Hydrocarbon release is the main risk in oil and gas transportation. Road accidents are one of the main risks in the transportation of oil and gas using a truck. Many such incidents are reported. Oil spill from the tanker is one of the main issues. Pipeline is most reliable way of transportation. Corrosion and poor maintenance are the risk factors in pipelines. But by proper design, regular inspection and maintains, can reduce the risk to very low level. Annual risk per million for pipeline inner zone is less than 2, for pipeline middle zone is 1 and for pipeline outer zone is 0.33.

Yaw Akyampon Boakye-Ansah's picture


and gas are transported through pipes, vessels or tankers in most cases. In
transporting oil and gas from reservoirs, it will be necessary that no fluid is
lost based on a few factors. These fluids are transported through two major
means: road and train transport, and pipeline and marine transportation as
described by FMC Technologies.

Firstly, the fluid being
transported was invested in very heavily and it will behove on the owner to
transport the fluid as not to lose the financial benefit he/she would have

Secondly, the compounds that
constitute oil and gas are not environmentally friendly. Oil spills cause
environmental degradation (1) Macondo disaster. These compounds affect the
environment in which they are discharged. The cost of spilling oil and the
impact of discharged gases on the environment are very pronounced.

The least considered threat to
oil and gas in vessels and tankers is the fuels being hijacked by pirates. Due
to the fiscal benefit of oil and gas, pirates have targeted that them so as to
reap financial benefit.

of the means by which these failures in the transportation of the fluids occur
include poor design, poor implementation of design, poor or faulty engineering
of the materials used in the manufacture of transporting equipment. Metering
may not be used and this can cause excess pressure on the transporting means to
fail. Conversely, some spills may be caused by geological events such as
earthquakes and hurricanes. 

It is thus necessary to put all
safety measures into practice and reduce the possibility of failure to ALARP.
This will benefit both the owners and the environment.







Yaw A. Boakye-Ansah


Uchenna Onyia's picture


I agree with
Victor in the fact the pipeline transport of crude products is a safe method of
transportation.  But it has its inherent problems.  Issues like
Hydrate (in gas transport), wax (for oil), heat transfer issues, slugging in
the pipeline due to multiphase flow and corrosion make it an expensive venture
for the oil and gas sector.  All these issues have to be contended with
especially for long distances so as to prevent pollution of the
  Remedies such as the use of
HIPPS valves, subsurface safety valves, use of exotic materials for pipeline
construction and ingenious cathodic production mechanisms have been applied to
help mitigate these issues.

uchenna onyia 51232632
MSc Subsea Engineering

ROHIT NAIR's picture

Pipelines are the commonly
used medium for transporting hydrocarbons. They have their own advantages and
disadvantages. I would like to draw your attention to the various threats to
the pipeline integrity that can eventually lead to failure of the pipelines,
especially the old pipelines in North Sea.

After carrying out
detailed research and analysis, the key threats to the integrity of the
pipeline were identified as follows:

  • External Corrosion
  • Internal Corrosion &
  • Flow Assurance
  • Fatigue
  • Buckling
  • External Damage

this I think corrosion is one of the key threat to the integrity of pipeline. It
costs the nation billions of dollars in damage. And as my friend Uchenna
said, there are various mitigation techniques like using exotic
corrosion resistant alloys and different CP systems, which can be used to
prevent corrosion from taking place.


Rohit C Nair
Subsea Engineering
Student id- 51231896

Kelvin Arazu's picture

of oil and gas pertains to the movement of crude oil from the oil fields to
their gathering units.

The means of transporting
oil and gas includes:

vessels, Pipeline, Tank Trucks/ Railroad tanks cars, Tug boats

The failure
mode of this means of transportation would result to loss of containment. This is one of the
major accidents hazard seen in the oil and gas industry.

One of the
major concerns in the safe transport of bulk liquid cargos by tank vessel is
the stress on the hull. Bending in the form of sagging (concentration of weight
in the mid section of the vessel causing the deck to be subjected to
compression forces while at the same time the keel is under tension), hogging
(concentration of weight at both ends of the vessel causing the deck to
experience tensile forces while the keel is under compression), and shear
force, which occurs when two forces act in opposite directions parallel to each
other, such as at a bulkhead between an empty ballast tank and a full cargo

Pipeline is
faced with issues like burst, flow assurance issues, upheaval buckling,
collapse and others.

To mitigate
the safety impact with transporting oil and gas, the transportation facilities
should be built in accordance to safety standard. For example to withstand
large amounts of pressure associated with hydrocarbon production.

Kevin K. Waweru's picture

Oil was historically transported using barrels until leaks rendered them uneconomical. The research that followed led to the evolution of pipelines. They are extensively used in today’s transportation of both oil and gas across the globe from the production rigs in remote areas such as Sakhalin to the ready markets.

As oil and gas production increasingly moves offshore, pipelines have become the transportation option of choice owing to safety, efficiency and economic considerations driven by technological advances. However, this places a huge responsibility on their owners and operators to ensure the safety and reliability of these pipeline systems. In this regard, integrity management comes to mind.

Factors that must be considered during design and construction of these pipelines include fluid volume, soil characteristics and seismology, seabed topography, water depth and temperature among others [1]. In addition, it may be prudent to consider burying the pipelines for protection against terrorist attacks.


Kevin K. Waweru

MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

Issues associated by pipeline transportation of oil
and gas are;

Flow assurance issues

Pipeline, design, material and construction integrity

Flow assurance issues are as a result of the
topography of the pipeline and nature of the fluid been transported. This include
fluid attaining it s flash point making it susceptible to explosion and
pipeline blockage which could lead to fluid pressure build up and rupturing of
pipeline, thus loss of containment.

However with the use of HIPP systems and constant
pipeline monitoring, such occurrences can be prevented.




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