Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
A fatal explosion has shut down a pipeline supplying gasoline to millions of people across the Southeast — the second accident and shutdown in two months — raising the specter of another round of gas shortages and price increases.
It happened when a dirt-moving track hoe struck the pipeline, ignited gasoline and sparked a blast Monday, killing one worker and injuring five others, Colonial Pipeline said. Flames and thick black smoke continued to soar on Tuesday, and firefighters built an earthen berm to contain the burning fuel.
Fuel shortages in the Southeast could be more severe this time if both of Colonial Pipeline's main lines remain shut down, as they were Tuesday, for several days, experts say. Together the two pipelines (diesel, jet fuel and gasoline) carry more than 2 million barrels of fuel a day.
"Both lines are down, no gasoline is moving down the line. Nothing is going through," said Tamra Johnson, a spokeswoman for AAA. "So we can actually start seeing some supply outages in the coming days if they don't put a plan in place."
If the pipeline's two main lines remain closed, motorists could begin seeing prices rise at the pumps within about a week, Johnson said.
After the explosion, gasoline futures rocketed almost 8 percent higher on the New York Mercantile exchange, to $1.53 per gallon.
"In a worst-case scenario we could be talking about more severe outages than what we saw back in September. It's very worrisome that both pipelines are shut down right now," said Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with price-tracking service GasBuddy.com.
Plagued by a severe drought after weeks without rain, the section of Alabama where the explosion happened has been scarred by multiple wildfires in recent weeks, and crews worked to keep the blaze from spreading.
Coleen Vansant, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said crews built a 75-foot-long earthen dam to contain burning fuel. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office said the blaze had been contained but it was unclear how long the fire may take to burn out.
Gasoline and diesel prices soared Tuesday after a major fuel artery was severed for the second time in two months, cutting off the pipeline that supplies much of the East Coast with gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
The outage on the Colonial pipeline following a Monday explosion threatens to cause gasoline shortages across much of the southeast and could cause flight disruptions at airports from Baltimore to Raleigh, N.C.
Colonial said on Tuesday that the diesel pipeline resumed operations at midnight and that the gasoline line is scheduled to restart Saturday, but that could change after the company gets more information. Colonial said it would work with shippers to send gasoline through the diesel line.
During the previous slowdown, gasoline prices jumped by more than 20 cents in a matter of days throughout Georgia and in parts of Tennessee and South Carolina. Atlanta filling stations experienced gasoline shortages after some drivers made multiple trips to fuel up all their cars.
“Just having one line shut down caused a circus. Imagine having both,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “It’s much more grave of a situation, and prices are shooting up.”
The East Coast has become more dependent on fuel deliveries from the Gulf Coast after refineries along the Eastern Seaboard have shut down in recent years. Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan halted plans to build a fuel pipeline from South Carolina to Jacksonville, Fla., amid local opposition and legislation in Georgia aimed at preventing the pipeline from being built. The pipeline was slated to open next year.
Barclays analyst Warren Russell said on Tuesday prior to Colonial's statement that a restart could take longer due to concerns by regulators, given the proximity to the September leak, and as repair and safety inspections take place.
“The facts on the ground are not 100 percent clear," said Russell. "This is the second accident in two months, so the stakes are much higher this time around."
GHung wrote:Then, again, it could be something as simple as a crappy or distracted equipment operator who zigged when he/she should have zagged, or even a busted hydraulic hose.
ROCKMAN wrote:Very difficult to keep human nature out of the process.
I only wish the aholes who dug around my house had gotten this response. A nearby neighbor wanted to do some excavating. The idiots who came out to dig did not do the surveying. Instead they dug straight into a gas main. Fortunately there was no explosion. But the entire neighbor stank heavy of gas until the utility could come out and repair the damage. I see the signs everywhere: call J.U.L.I.E. before you dig(Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators). You would think that someone who does excavating for a living would follow through with that simply advice. *sigh*Outcast_Searcher wrote:This whole thing seems kind of bizarre to me.
In '12, I had a bunch of work done on my house for improvements and problems. So multiple trenches had to be dug.
In each case, the water, electric, and gas companies came out and indicated where the lines were. It wasn't to the inch, but it was quite close. The closer my description for where we were going to dig, the more accurate and complete were the markings.
And there were no exceptions. When I called after the first time, stated we were digging in the same area, and already knew where the lines were from the previous time -- it didn't matter. Even when I stated I was 100% confident no one had, for example, added gas or water lines while I wasn't paying attention, the rules were ironclad -- in each case of any digging -- all the utilities had to mark their lines -- no exceptions, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Check out the safety record of BP vs Exxon: Video: BP Vs Exxon Safety RecordROCKMAN wrote:And it might come as a shock to some but THE most safety minded company I've dealt with over the last 40 years was ExxonMobil. Not because they were saints but because it knew they had a big bullseye on its back when it came to lawsuits. It wasn't the XOM engineers who would bust your balls over saferty...it was its lawyers. Really. LOL.
GHung wrote:Often these smaller contractors will avoid calling in order to not bring attention to the job because they don't want to pull permits. Quick-and-easy, in-and-out, avoids all the hassles,,, usually
Colonial Pipeline Co. has delayed until Sunday the expected restart of the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, which was shut this week by an explosion and fire in Alabama.
Colonial aims to restore service on the main 1.3 million-barrel-a-day gasoline pipeline one day later than originally expected, it said in an online statement. The six-day outage means that nearly 330 million gallons of gasoline will be backed up at the pipeline’s Gulf Coast origin by the time the line restarts.
The blast took out service on one line of a system that brings gasoline, jet fuel and diesel more than 5,000 miles from refineries in Houston to storage facilities near New York City. Colonial Pipeline, which is owned by a group that includes subsidiaries of Koch Industries Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, supplies about half of the refined products used on the East Coast. This week’s events followed a spill in September that left the line out of service for 12 days.
The pipeline makes shipments of gasoline in five-day cycles to Southeastern states that are otherwise cut off from access to refineries that produce motor fuel. A batch of regular conventional gasoline left Monday from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to a Colonial shipping schedule.
Supplies to markets in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia are at risk when this line goes down, said Andy Milton, senior vice president of supply and distribution at Mansfield Oil Co., a fuel supplier based in Gainesville, Georgia.
So far retail gasoline rises have only been significant in Georgia, where pump prices rose 6 cents since last Friday, according to Tamara Johnson, a spokeswoman for AAA, a motorist advocacy group.
Two days after a gasoline pipeline exploded in Shelby County, Alabama, killing one worker and injuring four others, owner and operator Colonial Pipeline faces a post-incident assessment and planning process that has become familiar in recent months.
Internal documents generated by Colonial in September that AL.com obtained last week from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a formal records request provide a view of the numerous steps the company takes after a major pipeline incident.
Contractor monitoring air quality at the site of the October 31 incident on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016.
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