Oil Pipeline Blowout: Tech Innovation and New Rules Needed—Now

In North Dakota, an estimated 865,000 gallons of oil has spread across farmland after a pipeline rupture. The pipeline’s owner, Tesoro Logistics, only found out about the leak after being alerted by the farmer on whose land it had been spewing for some time. The spill is one of the largest inland oil pipeline accidents in the U.S. An investigation reveals that a) there are no minimum performance standards for pipeline leak detection; b) the section of ruptured pipeline was not required to have leak monitoring or pressure sensors; c) Tesoro was monitoring the pipeline remotely but picked up no problems; and d) the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says detection rules are still being “updated.” Seems like there’s plenty of opportunity for tech innovations and new environmental safety regulations in the pipeline industry.

John Howell, Editorial Director