Pipelines are the most efficient and safest method by which to transport and deliver natural gas and petroleum products, and they are inherently safer than other modes of transportation such as rail, barge and truck. While the amount of natural gas and petroleum being used in the U.S. continues to increase dramatically, the industry's safety performance in recent years has improved significantly and serious accidents are rare. Pipelines help ensure a plentiful supply of natural gas to heat homes and businesses and generate electricity; gasoline to operate our cars and trucks; fuel oil to power industry and heat homes; and jet fuel for our nation's commercial and military aircraft.
We are committed to public safety, protecting the environment and operating our facilities in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations. The majority of our pipelines fall under the regulatory oversight of the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). We are proud of our safety records and follow many regulations and procedures to monitor and ensure the integrity of our pipelines.
Here are some of the measures we take to keep our pipelines safe:
• Our pipeline operating conditions are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by personnel in control centers using a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) computer system. This electronic surveillance system gathers such data as pipeline pressures, volume and flow rates and the status of pumping equipment and valves. Whenever operating conditions change, an alarm warns the operator on duty and the condition is investigated. Both automated and manual valves are strategically placed along the pipeline system to enable the pipeline to be shutdown immediately and sections to be isolated quickly, if necessary.
• Visual inspections of our pipeline right-of-way are conducted by air and/or ground on a regular basis. The right-of-way is a narrow strip of land reserved for the pipeline. Above ground marker signs are displayed along the right-of-way to alert the public and contractors to the existence of the pipeline.
• Internal inspections are conducted periodically by passing sophisticated computerized equipment called "smart pigs" through the pipelines to detect anomalies or defects that could compromise the integrity of the line.
• Cathodic protection is a technology designed to protect pipelines from external corrosion through the use of an electrostatic current. The small electrical charge is applied to our pipelines, which have an external protective coating.
• Our public awareness program
is designed to prevent third-party damage to its pipelines. Additionally, the company is a member of numerous "call-before-you-dig" programs or "one-call" systems across the United States, which are designed to help the public, contractors and others identify the location of pipelines before excavation or digging projects to prevent damage to pipelines and protect the public. The leading cause of pipeline accidents is third-party damage caused by various types of digging and excavation activities.
• We have emergency preparedness and planning measures in place in the event that a pipeline incident occurs. We also work closely with local emergency response organizations to educate them regarding our pipelines and how to respond in the unlikely event of an emergency.
• Kinder Morgan participates in the Pipeline SMS Group
. This group is a partnership among the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Association of Oil Pipelines, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Gas Association. The Pipeline SMS Group's goals are to educate shareholders and enhance safe pipeline operations through the application of API Recommended Practice 1173 (RP 1173). The group exchanges ideas, information and lessons learned following implementation of RP 1173 in an effort to advance pipeline safety for individual companies and the industry as a whole.