Performance of European cross-country oil pipelines. Statistical summary of reported spillages in 2013 and since 1971

20 May 2015

Concawe has collected 43 years of spillage data on European cross-country oil pipelines. At over 36,000 km the inventory covered currently includes the vast majority of such pipelines in Europe, transporting some 680 million m3 per year of crude oil and oil products. This report covers the performance of these pipelines in 2013 and a full historical perspective since 1971. The performance over the whole 43 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 inspections by in-line tools (inspection pigs) is also reported. The main feature of this 2013 survey is the dramatic rise of spillages related to product theft attempts, 18 of which were reported. Another 8 spillage incidents were reported in 2013, corresponding to 0.23 spillages per 1000 km of line, above the 5-year average of 0.18 but well below the long-term running average of 0.48, which has been steadily decreasing over the years from a value of 1.2 in the mid-70s. There were no fires, fatalities or injuries connected with these spills. 3 incidents was due to mechanical failure, 1 to operational error, 1 to corrosion, and 3 were connected to third party activities (other than theft). Over the long term, third party activities remain the main cause of spillage incidents and the apparent rise of theft attempts will only increase this proportion.