Safety Record

Key Performance Indicators

Pipelines are the safest way to transport liquid energy with 99.999% of barrels delivered by pipeline arriving at their destinations safely. However, no form of transportation is perfect and pipeline incidents can and do happen. 

Tracking how, where and why pipeline incidents occur helps pipeline operators and government regulators see how safely pipelines are operating and the reasons behind pipeline incidents when they occur. Pipeline operators use this data to design safety improvement programs. Particularly useful measures of pipeline safety examine incident size, location, commodity and cause. 

The liquids pipeline industry also tracks a core set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as a sign of overall pipeline safety performance. These KPIs are based primarily on incidents impacting the people or the environment (IPE). They were created through a collaborative effort between PHMSA, public safety advocates represented by the Pipeline Safety Trust and the liquids pipeline industry. They reflect the highest priority we place on protecting people and the environment.

Incidents Impacting People or the Environment

Pipeline incidents impacting people or the environment decreased 36% over the last 5 years. Total pipeline incidents were down as well, dropping 17% over 5 years with 77 fewer incidents in 2019 compared to 2015.
 
Graph of Total Incidents and Total IPE Incidents

Integrity Management Incidents Impacting People or the Environment

Incidents impacting people or the environment related to the integrity of the pipeline itself, such as corrosion, cracking or weld failure, were down 50% over the last 5 years. Corrosion incidents specifically dropped 45% from 2015 to 2019.
 
Graph of corrosion failure, material failure of pipe/weld, previous excavation damage, and previous outside force damage

Operations & Maintenance Incidents Impacting People or the Environment

Incidents related to installing and maintaining pipeline equipment and its valves or pumps were down 13% over the last 5 years in areas impacting people or the environment. In these areas, incidents caused by incorrect operation decreased by 11% while equipment failure decreased 15% from 2015 to 2019.

Incidents by Cause

Over the last 5 years, corrosion (30%) was the most frequent cause of incidents impacting people or the environment, followed by equipment failure (24%), material pipe/weld failures (11%), incorrect operations (11%) and excavation incidents (11%).
 
Incidents by cause chart

Incidents by Commodity

In 2019, crude oil incidents represented 50% of total incidents, with refined products at 30% and natural gas liquids at 18% of total incidents. The number of annual crude oil incidents are down 24% from 2015.
 
Incidents by commodity chart

Incidents by Location

In 2019, 77% of incidents from liquids pipelines were contained within an operator’s property. Examples of pipeline operator properties include pump stations, tank farms and terminals. Incidents in public spaces outside of operator facilities decreased 17% from 2015 to 2019.
 
Incidents by location graph

Incidents by Size

Most pipeline incidents are small in size. In 2019, 64% of incidents were less than 5 barrels and 85% were less than 50 barrels. Large pipeline incidents are also the rarest. In 2019, only 5% of incidents were 500 barrels or larger.
 
Incidents by size graph

 

Annual Performance Report

For more information on industry safety, read the API-AOPL Annual Pipeline Safety Excellence Performance Report.