The safety of U.S. liquids pipelines has improved across several key metrics over the past five years, according to a new joint report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL).


“Pipelines are not only the best way to deliver large volumes of liquids energy; they are also the safest,” Phillips 66 Pipeline LLC President Todd Denton said in API and AOPL’s annual 2021 Pipeline Safety Excellence Performance Report. “Pipelines deliver liquid energy with fewer incidents and lower volumes released than other transportation alternatives.”

Citing 2017-2021 data tracked and maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, API and AOPL reported a 31% drop in liquids pipeline incidents impacting people or the environment and a 17% decrease in total pipeline incidents.

A 2019 study observed a 36% decline in liquids pipeline incidents.

The drop in the number of incidents noted in the most recent study occurred “even while pipeline mileage and barrels per day” increased nearly 10%, API and AOPL said.

One U.S. midstream company planning to add liquids pipeline and other infrastructure is Enterprise Products Partners LP, whose CEO this week told analysts about $4.6 billion in potential growth projects.

“The government’s own data shows liquids pipelines are getting safer,” said AOPL’s Andy Black, president.

The API-AOPL report also found a 32% decrease in pipeline incidents affecting people or the environment during the five-year span that were caused by corrosion, cracking or weld failure. Moreover, it concluded that operations and maintenance incidents impacting people and the environment dropped 34% during the period.

“Thanks to industry initiatives and best practices, pipeline operators are working every day to strengthen safety and reduce incidents while providing Americans the fuels they need,” said API’s Robin Rorick, Midstream Policy vice president.

Of the 229,454 miles of liquids pipelines criss-crossing the United States at the end of 2020, 37% carried crude oil, 33% transported natural gas liquids and 28% shipped refined products, API and AOPL said.