Performance of European cross-country oil pipelines – Statistical summary of reported spillages in 2017 and since 1971

03 Jun 2019

Concawe has collected 47 years of spillage data on European cross-country oil pipelines. At nearly 37,500 km the current inventory includes the majority of such pipelines in Europe, transporting some 720 million m3 per year of crude oil and oil products. This report covers the performance of these pipelines in 2017 and a full historical perspective since 1971. The performance over the whole 47 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 interference. The rate of inspections by in-line tools (inspection pigs) is also reported.

Product theft attempts continued to be the major cause of spills in 2017 although the total number (11) showed a sharp decline from previous years (60 in 2017, 87 in 2015).

Another 2 spillage incidents were reported in 2017, corresponding to 0.06 spillages per 1000 km of line, just over 1/3rd of the 5-year average and an order of magnitude below the long-term running average of 0.45, 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. Both incidents were due to operational errors.

Although there have been relatively few incidents due to third party activities (excluding theft), in recent years this category remains the main source of spillage incidents.