Pipeline Safety Trust Data Compilations / Statistics

PST has charts available with compilations of PHMSA data on Gas Transmission & Gathering, and Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Systems.

Note that much of the data on this page below has not been updated recently. When the Trust began creating our own compilations and analysis, it was generally because that kind of information was very difficult to come by elsewhere. PHMSA has since improved the data they provide to which the public has access, so we now provide direct links to that information on our main statistics page. We have left the information below available for those of you who still want access to it.


There are many sources of pipeline data and statistics around the country but often they are only available in formats that make it difficult for people to understand them. They also are rarely provided in ways that would allow for useful analysis of pipeline safety trends in general, or for specific pipelines.

One of the Pipeline Safety Trust’s main goals is to collect existing pipeline statistics and make them easily accessible and understandable for all who want them. Below are a variety of pipeline safety statistics and graphical representations of the data. Please remember that many pipeline safety experts have voiced concerns about the quality and completeness of much of the pipeline data that is collected in this country.

User Friendly Incident Data

Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Incidents 1986-2009

Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Incidents 1986-2009

Natural Gas Distribution Pipeline Incidents 1986-2009

 

RAIL vs. PIPELINE?

When it comes to safety, which mode of transporting hazardous liquids or gas is better – pipeline or rail?

With an increasing volume of petroleum products being transported by rail, and tragic accidents like the one that occurred in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, questions are being asked about the relative safety of transporting these hazardous liquid and gas products by rail vs. by pipeline. Currently pipelines are used for the vast majority of oil and gas transportation – roughly 70% of US volumes – whereas rail still accounts for less than 5%.

In general, the information we’ve reviewed leads us to the following conclusions:

  • Pipelines spill more, both based on sheer volume, and on a per-ton-mile or per-barrel-mile basis.
  • Rail transport accidents cause more injuries to humans on a per-barrel-mile or per-ton-mile basis.
  • The probability of a spill from Rail is greater on a per-barrel-mile or per-ton-mile basis, though the majority of spills tend to be quite small in volume.

In addition to the other resources about pipelines on our website, here are sources of information that provide details from a variety of perspectives on different oil and gas transportation modes, or specifically rail vs. pipeline transport:

Articles on this topic: