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.
- Comparison of property damage from hazardous liquid, gas transmission, and gas distribution pipelines nationwide
- Comparison of number of incidents from hazardous liquid, gas transmission, and gas distribution pipelines nationwide
- Comparison of deaths and injuries caused by hazardous liquid, gas transmission, and gas distribution pipelines nationwide
- Nationwide data on reported incidents by pipeline type (gas transmission, gas distribution, hazardous liquid)
- Nationwide trends in hazardous liquid pipeline releases to the environment
User Friendly Incident Data
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:
- Railway Association of Canada report: Canadian Crude Oil Transportation; Comparing the Safety of Pipelines and Railways, by Oliver Wyman, published Dec 2015.
- US Government Accountability Office report: Department of Transportation is taking steps to address rail safety, but additional actions are needed to improve pipeline safety, published Sept 22, 2014
- Manhattan Institute for Policy Research report entitled “Pipelines are Safest for Transportation of Oil and Gas” published in June 2013
- American Association of Railroads information and statistics on transporting oil (includes information through 2012)
- American Petroleum Institute Analysis of US Oil Spillage, published in 2009
Articles on this topic:
- A change is gonna come? Improved ANS crude prospects in a lower price environment (RBN Energy, July 12, 2015).
- Recent derailments have raised questions of safety, method of transporting oil. (Toledo Blade, March 29, 2015).
- It’s a lot riskier to move oil by train instead of pipeline (Wash Post, Feb 20, 2015).
- Oil train derailment in West Virginia: Are pipelines safer? (Feb 17, 2015)
- With the boom in oil and gas, pipelines proliferate in the US (Oct 6, 2014)
- Derailed: Railroad delays first responders on riverside oil spill (Sept 22, 2014)
- In Dakota oil path, trains trump pipelines (Mar 3, 2014)
- More oil spilled from trains in 2013 than in previous 4 decades, federal data show (Jan 20, 2014)
- Crude oil spills are bigger from trains than pipelines (Jan 8, 2014)
- California getting more of its oil by rail (Sept 26, 2013)
- New Louisiana Rail Facility to Bring in Crude Variety (Aug 26, 2013)