September 4, 2012
With the passing of Hurricane Isaac, AOPL is thankful that more lives or property were not lost. While the damage may not compare to harsher storms, our thoughts are with those who will no doubt have tough times getting their lives back in order after the flooding and power loss. During the storm, AOPL assisted members and the government relaying information on the status of member operations to the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation. Member pipelines performed well, without apparent damage, although some refinery shutdowns and production shut-ins did reduce certain deliveries. As of the end of last week, operations in southern Louisiana appear well on their way to returning to normal levels.
August 27, 2012
As Tropical Storm Isaac comes ashore, it has the potential to affect liquid pipeline operations. Oil pipeline operations can be impacted by hurricanes and other storms through power outages, flooding, damage to facilities, or reductions of supply. Without power, crude oil and petroleum products generally cannot be moved through pipelines. Without supply from crude oil inputs or refineries, a pipeline might not have anything to transport.
Pipeline operators work hard to ensure their vital portion of energy infrastructure is running safely and ready to meet America's energy needs. They protect facilities and develop emergency response and business continuity plans to minimize delivery disruptions. Oil pipelines were resilient during Hurricanes Irene, Ike, Katrina, Rita, and others. After each storm, the industry quickly and safely brought pipeline operations back online.
Oil pipeline operators update government about operating status and safety. AOPL will serve as a central clearinghouse for information in the event of significant outages. Updates will be posted on the AOPL web page at www.aopl.org, and provided to the Departments of Transportation and Energy.
Hopefully, Isaac will pass with limited impact upon America’s pipelines, consumers, workers, and communities.
May 7, 2012
AOPL welcomes news that TransCanada reapplied to the U.S. Department of State for a Presidential Permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. Pipelines like Keystone XL bring thousands of jobs and lower-priced crude oil to U.S. workers and consumers.
With a new application resubmitted, hopefully the administration will approve this pipeline and the American people can get the jobs and lower-priced North American crude oil that pipelines like Keystone XL deliver.
Pipeline projects like Keystone XL create thousands of jobs for American workers. TransCanada estimates Keystone XL will create 13,000 construction jobs and 7,000 manufacturing jobs. Construction of a 1,600-mile pipeline creates good-paying jobs in every state it passes through, in rural and urban areas and for all skill levels. Pipeline construction employs engineers, laborers, welders, mechanics, teamsters, quality control and safety personnel.
U.S. manufacturing workers benefit from pipeline construction by producing pipes, valves and pumps. Much of the pipe for Keystone XL was manufactured at a specialty steel mill in Arkansas. The oil and gas industry is creating new manufacturing jobs across America. The expanded and newly built steel mills in Ohio are a tangible result of the economic value from pipeline expansion.
Consumers also benefit from lower-priced North American crude oil. Crude oil produced in North America is currently priced at least $15 per barrel less than oil bought on international markets. Pipeline projects like Keystone XL help U.S. families and workers gain access to North American crude oil and avoid paying for expensive international oil.
Pipeline access to lower-priced North American crude oil can result in lower-priced gasoline at the pump. U.S. consumers in the Great Plains, Mountain West and parts of the Midwest with access to pipelines like Keystone XL are already paying much lower gas prices than consumers on the East and West Coasts.
March 23, 2012
President Obama visited an oil pipeline facility in Cushing, Oklahoma, on March 22, 2012. AOPL issued a statement about the importance oil pipeline capacity expansions in advance of the visit, here.
Setting aside the industry’s disappointment over the President’s previous actions on the full Keystone XL pipeline project, and all of the politics surrounding this speech, what he said about oil pipelines in Cushing bears repeating:
“In fact, the problem in a place like Cushing is that we’re actually producing so much oil in places like North Dakota an Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport it all where it needs to go. There’s a bottleneck here because we can’t get all of our oil to our refineries fast enough. If we could, it would help us increase our oil supplies at time where we need as much as possible.”
The same day, his Administration also released a Presidential Memorandum about future reviews of pipeline projects. Here, too, there were many words we like to hear:
“[W]e need an energy infrastructure system that can keep pace with advances in production. To promote American energy sources, we must not only extract oil -- we must also be able to transport it to our world-class refineries, and ultimately to consumers.
The need for infrastructure is particularly acute right now. Because of advances in drilling technology that allow us to tap new oil deposits, we are producing more oil from unconventional sources -- places like the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, where production grew by more than 200 percent last year, or the Bakken formation of North Dakota and Montana, where output has increased tenfold in the last 5 years alone. In States like North Dakota, Montana, and Colorado, rising production is outpacing the capacity of pipelines to deliver the oil to refineries.
Cushing, Oklahoma, is a prime example. There, in part due to rising domestic production, more oil is flowing in than can flow out, creating a bottleneck that is dampening incentives for new production while restricting oil from reaching state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast. Moving forward on a pipeline from Cushing to Port Arthur, Texas, could create jobs, promote American energy production, and ultimately benefit consumers.
Although expanding and modernizing our Nation's pipeline infrastructure will not lower prices right away, it is a vital part of a sustained strategy to continue to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and enhance our Nation's energy security. Therefore, as part of my Administration's broader efforts to improve the performance of Federal permitting and review processes, we must make pipeline infrastructure a priority, ensuring the health, safety, and security of communities and the environment while supporting projects that can contribute to economic growth and a secure energy future. In doing so, the Federal Government must work in partnership with State, local, and tribal governments, which play a central role in the siting and permitting of pipelines; and, we must protect our natural resources and address the concerns of local communities.”
Oil pipeline operators are responding creatively to fundamental changes in crude oil production, natural gas liquids production, and refining markets. Sound policies are needed for these needed oil pipeline capacity expansions to continue. AOPL works every day to promote those sound policies, pipeline safety, and public awareness of the vital role pipelines play in the daily lives of Americans.
March 8, 2012
Pipeline operators don't "gamble" on preventing excavation damage, but many gathered in Las Vegas this week for the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Excavation Safety & Expo. More than 900 attendees from contractors, utility locators, 811 One-Call Centers, telecommunications companies, pipeline safety regulators, and pipeline operators came together to discuss united efforts on damage prevention.
We discussed promotion and awareness of the 811 Call Before You Dig number, updating 'best practices' in damage prevention, learning from accidents and near misses, improving state One Call programs, and more. An exhibit hall of new technologies demonstrated improvements in locating and marking underground utilities, safe excavation practices, and making more people aware of what's below. Volunteers from liquid pipeline members of AOPL and CGA shared their ideas in each work group, striving to protect pipelines, the public, and the environment from unnecessary line strikes caused by excavation.
This joint stakeholder work continues to show results. Awareness of 811 and safe digging practices is up, and damage to underground infrastructure like pipelines is down.
All excavators should call 811 before digging, wait for underground utility infrastructure to be marked, and follow the markings carefully when excavating. Many large excavators already follow the consensus best practices and are strong partners in damage prevention, but some do not. Many States implement and enforce solid damage prevention plans, but some do not. Many utility locators can pinpoint what is below, but that is a difficult task not always done perfectly.
AOPL is pleased to support the important work of the Common Ground Alliance and will keep at it until we reach our ultimate goal of zero accidents.
About the Author
Andy Black became President and CEO of AOPL in September 2009. He leads outreach to Congress, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), other government agencies, trade associations, and key stakeholder groups. Andy testified before Congressional committees on behalf of AOPL and its members in 2010 and 2011. Andy participates in industry discussions about performance improvement and discusses pipeline issues regularly with members of the media. He also manages the talented AOPL staff and reports to the AOPL Board of Directors.
Andy previously served as Director of Federal Government Relations for a natural gas pipeline and producer. Prior to that, he was FERC's Director of the Office of External Affairs, where he managed relations with Congress. He spent a combined thirteen years on Capitol Hill as a staff member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and for Congressman Joe Barton. He also spent time directing an association of government relations firms in state and national capitols.
Mr. Black has a B.S. in Economics from Texas Christian University and an M.B.A.from the University of Maryland. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and elementary school age daughter and son.