Performance of European cross-country oil pipelines – Statistical summary of reported spillages in 2019 and since 1971

04 May 2021

Concawe has collected 49 years of spillage data on European cross-country oil pipelines. At nearly 36,000 km the current inventory includes the majority of such pipelines in Europe, transporting some 620 million m3 per year of crude oil and oil products. This report covers the performance of these pipelines in 2019 and a full historical perspective since 1971. The performance over the whole 49 years is analysed in various ways, including gross and net spillage volumes, and spillage causes grouped into five main categories: mechanical failure, operational, corrosion, natural hazard and third party. The rate of use of in-line inspection tools/pigs is also reported. Significantly in 2019, there were no spillages associated with third party interference, either accidental or intentional (product theft attempts). This is the first time since records began in 1971 and the first year since 2010 for theft attempts. A total of 6 spillage incidents were reported in 2019, corresponding to 0.18 spillages per 1000 km of line, somewhat above the 5-year average but still well below the long-term running average of 0.44 spillages per 1000 km per year, which has been steadily decreasing over the years from a value of 1.1 in the mid-70s. There were no fires, fatalities or injuries connected with these spills. Two incidents were due to mechanical failures, 1 to an operational issue and 3 to corrosion. The historical data show a long-term downward trend in the frequency of corrosion-related spillages since the early 1980’s, albeit with notable shorter-term peaks and troughs. Nine cases were reported in the last 4 years and it is not clear at this stage whether this is a warning of a wider issue.