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Posts Tagged ‘pipeline’

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 @ 09:09 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Oil and gas continues to be a hotbed of activity when it comes to automation and that also means security is top of mind.

When it comes to designing a network diagram for any kind of oil and gas environment, everyone has to understand the main assets that need protection and they need a clear understanding of what they need to secure.

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“In one greenfield offshore platform, control systems engineers developed a diagram and IT came in to design security and they found the PLCs were the critical assets,” said Scott Howard, commercial engineer at Belden Inc. during his talk Tuesday on security applications in the oil and gas market at the 2014 Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Design Seminar, Houston, TX.

They also found that PCs were threats along with networks the control engineers could not control, and that included the business system. “The first rule in security is to not trust anything you can’t control,” Howard said.

After they made their first draft at a network diagram for the platform network, Howard said they went and analyzed the system. They then created zones for the critical assets. Zones for the junction boxes, the switch gear, subsea cabinets, the PLC cabinet and the enterprise network.

They also found they had an I/O server that was a shared asset between the enterprise and the control network, so they had to create a demilitarized zone (DMZ), which allows access to a shared network using a multiport device.

After they created the zones which segmented the critical assets and created the DMZ, the network diagram became more understandable and more secure.

Another example Howard talked about was a refinery which was running a parallel network.

“We did a risk assessment and looked at zones and conduits and we did a risk analysis and looked at the threats,” Howard said. “This was a very complex plant.”

Part of a defense in depth model calls for segmentation via zones and conduits which is part of the IEC 62443 standard. This model helps lock down a network. Using this model, a user should only allow minimum required traffic into zones and when threats do come through alarms sound, Howard said.

A conduit is a pathway of communications that exits and enters a zone. A zone is a specialized area on the network that needs protection.

The threats they understood for the refinery were a release of hazardous products, a process reactivity incident and a process shutdown.

They then created a chart that looked at the vulnerability, then the possible threat source, skill levels, potential consequence, severity, likelihood and the risk.

When they looked at the process shut down they found an interesting development.

“No one ever considered the safety system to be a security threat,” Howard said. “That ended up being a surprise. The safety system was so critical it needed its own zone separate from the control system zone.”

By creating a solid zones and conduits model, they were able to get a solid segmented security program up and running for the refinery.

“We could protect the entire plant with 14 (Tofino firewalls). We could do that entire refinery for less than $200,000,” Howard said.

One of the final project Howard discussed was a pipeline installation in Alaska. Again, they found through a security diagram, the PLC was the critical asset. “This guy has to keep working no matter what,” he said.

One of the other issues they had was with a business scenario. Pipeline owners buy and sell oil as it enters the pipeline and as it exits at the refinery. To ensure the proper amount of oil ends up bought and sold, operators will use a flow meter to measure the amount of oil in the pipeline.

Because the flow meter connected to the system it ended up being a vulnerable asset. In this case, Howard said, a partner called one day to tell the operator it appeared the PLC they were using was not operating properly.

It ended up being the flow meter had a connection to the network and the partner was able to look at the data from the PLC.

“The next day a firewall was put in there to not allow visibility to the network,” Howard said. The flow meter, he said, ended up being a shared resource and they put in a DMZ around that device.

Oil and gas are no different than any other industry, it is all about knowing and understanding your network.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 @ 01:08 PM gHale

A pipeline near the town of Mandaree, ND, on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation leaked 3,000 barrels of brine, state agencies said Monday in the second incident at the reservation by the same company in as many months.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission and the state Department of Health said Arrow Water LLC, a subsidiary of Houston-based Crestwood Midstream Partners LP, operates the pipeline. The leak ended up discovered late Friday.

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Brine is an unwanted byproduct of oil production and is many times saltier than sea water. The state considers it an environmental hazard by the state.

In early July, a pipeline operated by another Crestwood subsidiary leaked 1 million gallons, or 24,000 barrels, into the badlands near Mandaree. That incident was one of the largest oil field spills in state history. A barrel equals 42 gallons.

The brine from the July spill traveled nearly 2 miles down into a ravine, killing vegetation along its path. Oddly enough, through a series of beaver dams, it helped stem the flow of the fluid, the company and Three Affiliated Tribe officials said the brine did not reach a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, a source of drinking water for the reservation.

However, the tribes’ environmental director, Edmund Baker, said the brine did reach the lake.

The July spill has led to a criticism from tribal members upset over what they see as a lack of information from the tribes and Crestwood about an incident that may have threatened their water supply. No water test results are public.

There are few details about the latest spill. A spill report said there could be pollution with the soil and vegetation. It adds they isolated the spill and cleanup crews are at the scene.

The report also mentions the area where the spill occurred slopes toward Skunk Creek Bay or a tributary. That bay is a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, but the Environmental Protection Agency says there is no threat to water resources based on the information they received on Friday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 @ 03:03 PM gHale

Pipelines continue their spilling, leaking ways this time in a stream and marshy pond in a nature preserve in Colerain Township, Ohio, federal officials said.

Around 10,000 gallons of crude oil ended up discovered spilled from an underground pipeline into the stream and marshy pond Monday night and will be “tricky” to clean up, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials said Tuesday.

The spill didn’t injure anyone and remained contained to the spill site by Tuesday afternoon, said state and federal EPA officials.

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To clean up the spill crews will need to “build a road” to get heavy machinery into the spill area, a part of the Oak Glen Nature Preserve, to vacuum up the oil and dig up contaminated soil. With rain in the forecast, they will have to build a containment structure to capture oil and keep it from reaching the Great Miami River, just 500 feet away, or spreading out on the site, said Heather Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA.

Right now, they estimate the process will take at least a week.

The incident is at least the third time in the last decade that oil has leaked in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region from this pipe, owned by Sunoco Logistics and operated by Mid-Valley Pipeline Co., both subsidiaries of Sunoco. It is the 40th incident since 2006 along the pipeline, which stretches 1,100 miles from Texas to Michigan, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The cause of this most recent leak remains under investigation by the U.S. EPA.

After leaking from the pipeline, the oil ran about half of a mile down a stream into a marshy pond, just west of East Miami River Road.

Even if some of the “sweet crude” – a lighter, thinner oil than sour crude – makes its way into the nearby Great Miami, regional drinking water will not end up threatened because water treatment plants are upstream on the Great Miami in Fairfield and upstream on the Ohio River, said Greater Cincinnati Water Works spokeswoman Michele Ralston.

Communities downstream, including Lawrenceburg and Louisville, also have nothing to worry about at this time, said Jerry Schulte, a manager involved in water protection and emergency response for the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.

Federal records show inspectors last checked the pipeline in 2011; the records do not include any current or ongoing inspections.

A system-wide inspection of the 1,119-mile-long pipeline in 2009 resulted in the company paying a $48,700 fine in 2012 for failing to address corrosion problems in the pipeline at the Oregon refinery for three years.

In addition, the operator received three warnings stemming from the 2009 inspection. One of them was for failing to inspect the pipeline crossing under the Ohio River between Addyston and Hebron for more than five years. Pipelines that go beneath bodies of navigable water must get additional scrutiny under federal regulation. The pipeline did not undergo an inspection by running a device through it from May 2004 until August 2009.

In addition, the federal records show Mid-Valley received a warning in 2006 for not having pipeline route markers along a pipeline section in Hebron where people could reach it. And it received a fine of $35,000 in 2006 for a 2002 inspection where the operator received a citation for failing to run a proper program of continuing education reminding people that the pipeline runs through parts of Kentucky and Ohio. The operator had sent calendars to residents living near the pipeline, but didn’t include any public agencies or excavation services in the program.

From 2006 to 2013, leaks and spills from the pipeline caused $7.5 million in property damage, $1.3 million done in 2008 in Burlington. In the previous 39 accidents, workers recovered 88 percent of the oil spilled.

The pipeline starts in Longview, TX (about 125 miles east of Dallas), and ends in Samaria, MI, about 12 miles north of Toledo and about 53 miles southwest of Detroit. Its size varies depending on the location from 8 inches in diameter to 22 inches in diameter. It only carries crude oil, with destinations in Ohio that include a Husky refinery in Lima and a BP refinery in Oregon (suburban Toledo).

Friday, February 21, 2014 @ 04:02 PM gHale

An excavator struck an oil pipeline in western North Dakota, spilling about 75 barrels of crude, or about 3,150 gallons, Tesoro Corp. said.

The company said the incident occurred Wednesday afternoon near Cartwright, ND, which is west of Watford City near the Montana border.

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Tesoro said the release of oil stopped and they recovered about 70 barrels’ worth of oil. The company says there were no injuries, and there appears to be little impact on wildlife.

This pipeline break comes on the heels of a series of small spills over the past week that were not huge individually, but they continue to add up and leads to questions of if safety is a top priority out in the field.

In one incident, the Department of Health said one spill was at a well site about eight miles east of Williston. Some of the 300 barrels of crude oil released sprayed off the location onto agricultural land. Zavanna, LLC owns that site. The company says about 295 barrels have been recovered from within the storage tank containment dike.

The second spill was 20 miles northeast of Watford City. Officials say about 35 barrels released, some of which sprayed off and reached a small, frozen pond. Newfield Production Company owns the site. The company said it recovered approximately 20 barrels.

Monday, January 27, 2014 @ 04:01 PM gHale

Extreme winter weather was making things difficult, but energy is on the way to heat about 4,000 people in the province of Manitoba in Canada who have no access to gas after an explosion Saturday along a pipeline sent flames up to 1,000 feet in the air.

The TransCanada Pipelines valve site near St. Pierre-Jolys that runs through the region exploded, caught fire and continued to burn unabated for about 12 hours, officials said. Investigators are still looking into the cause of the blast, however, there is no evidence of foul play.

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The explosion occurred about 31 miles south of Winnipeg. The natural gas pipeline burst into flames shortly after midnight, and that the flames reached heights of several hundred meters. There were no injuries in the incident.

Canada’s National Energy Board decided to evacuate the region as a precaution, officials said.

The explosion prevented TransCanada Pipelines from supplying natural gas to Manitoba Hydro, which informed customers on Saturday that service could be off for at least a day.

High officials in the area say that, all things considered, it will be some 24 – 72 hours before people once again have access to natural gas supplies. To make matters worse, the lack of natural gas hitting the province comes at a time when local temperatures were dropping to -68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Until workers restore natural gas services, they will transport natural gas to the area.

“TransCanada wants Manitoba Hydro customers affected by the natural gas outage to know that our staff are doing everything possible to determine the cause of the fire and get the pipeline repaired and regular natural gas service restored quickly, safely and in accordance with regulations,” the company said in a statement Sunday.

Monday, October 21, 2013 @ 08:10 PM gHale

Tesoro Logistics LP detected anomalies during an inspection of its 20-year-old North Dakota pipeline just days before the line ruptured and spilled 20,600 barrels of oil onto farmland, the company said.

The six-inch pipeline was carrying Bakken oil to the Stampede rail facility outside Columbus, ND, when it ruptured. A farmer harvesting wheat discovered oil spouting from the line Sept. 29.

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A robot, known as a “smart pig,” detected anomalies during what Tesoro called routine internal inspections of the pipeline Sept. 10 and 11.

“We were awaiting results of the analysis of that inspection when the leak was reported,” Tesoro spokeswoman Tina Barbee said.

North Dakota regulators said corrosion on the pipeline may have caused the spill.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration was on site investigating the spill despite the government shutdown over the last few weeks.

The pipeline remains down while the federal regulator looks into how Tesoro responded to the spill, its control-room processes and records and whether non-compliance contributed to the pipeline’s failure, said Jeannie Shiffer, PHMSA’s director for Governmental, International, and Public Affairs.

The ruptured pipeline runs 35 miles from Tioga to Black Slough in North Dakota. BP Plc built the pipeline in 1993.

It is a part of Tesoro’s “High Plains” pipeline system in North Dakota and Montana that gathers oil from the Bakken shale and delivers it to another pipeline and to Tesoro’s 68,000 barrels-per-day Mandan refinery.

Texas-based Tesoro bought the pipeline and the refinery from BP in 2001.

The spill is the largest on U.S. soil since an Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled 5,000 to 7,000 barrels of heavy Canadian crude in Mayflower, Arkansas, last March.

It is the largest oil leak in North Dakota since hydraulic fracturing unlocked massive oil reserves in the Bakken shale. In August North Dakota produced more than 911,000 barrels of oil per day.

Monday, September 16, 2013 @ 09:09 AM gHale

A molasses spill caused by faulty Matson Inc. molasses pipeline under Pier 52 at Honolulu Harbor resulted in thousand of fishing dying, officials said.

“There are two large reservoirs that contain molasses and during the loading of molasses into a ship last Monday morning an amount of molasses spilled into the harbor,” said Gary Gill deputy director for the Department of Health (DoH).

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The DoH said they spilled 1,400 tons, which is more than 200,000 gallons of thick sugar water. Biologists say the molasses is sinking to the ocean floor causing deep water fish to swim up the surface.

“They are trying to get away from the deeper water where they normally live because there’s an environmental change down there. It’s either low in oxygen or something is affecting their ability to breathe and it’s causing them to come up to the surface and into our shore,” said aquatic biologist Dave Gulko.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said those severe environmental impacts are going to be long term. Nutrient rich molasses could cause an unusual increase in harmful bacteria and algae. But, the DoH said it doesn’t know how to clean up the mess, so it’ll let nature take its course, which means they will wait for the thick sugar water to dissolve.

“It’s not like an oil spill where the oil will rise to the surface and it can be skimmed out mechanically. There’s no way that we’ve identified to reduce the molasses that’s already in the water,” Gill said.

Matson released a statement saying, “Matson regrets that the incident impacted many harbor users, as well as wildlife. We take our role as an environmental steward very seriously…”

DoH officials are warning everyone to stay out of the water near the Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon because as the fish die it can cause an increase in sharks and barracudas.

The DoH is not sure what the consequences or fines for Matson will be.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 @ 07:09 PM gHale

Enbridge Energy will pay the city of Marysville, MI, $155,185 for rights-of-way it already owns for a pipeline and for widening the rights-of-way by 20 feet in two areas in Marysville Park.

“We feel this is a very, very fair price for the city of Marysville,” said Assistant City Manager Randy Fernandez at the regular meeting of the city council on Aug. 25. “The money will go into city coffers.”

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A local appraiser assessed the value of the property, Fernandez said, calculations that he and City Assessor Ann Ratliff reviewed.

The Canadian energy firm is in the process of replacing its Line 6B from Griffith, IN, to Marysville. This is the same line that suffered an 80-inch rupture in 2010, pouring 843,000 gallons of Alberta tar sands crude oil into wetlands into the Kalamazoo River, which feeds Lake Michigan. Intense rains drove the river over the tops of dams and carried the spill 35 miles downstream.

Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board cited Enbridge with “a complete breakdown of safety,” saying its employees responded like “Keystone Kops.”

The workers “failed to recognize their pipeline had ruptured and continued to pump crude into the environment,” the NTSB said. “Despite multiple alarms and a loss of pressure in the pipeline, for more than 17 hours and through three shifts they failed to follow their own shutdown procedures.”

Three years after the spill, the area still remains affected by the incident, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Enbridge is replacing the old 30-inch diameter pipeline from Griffith, IN, to Marysville with a new 36-inch pipeline all the way to Stockbridge, MI. A new 30-inch pipeline is going from Stockbridge to Marysville. When the project goes into service in mid-2014, Enbridge’s capacity in Line 6B will jump from 240,000 barrels per day to 500,000.

“Enbridge’s top priority is ensuring the continued safe and reliable delivery of crude oil in order to meet the everyday needs of consumers and businesses in the region,” said Fernandez in a report to City Manager Jason Hami.

Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 06:07 PM gHale

Manufacturing defects are at fault for the failure of an ExxonMobil pipeline that sent 150,000 gallons of crude oil into the small town of Mayflower, AR, according to an independent report.

The report, provided to Exxon and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, found cracks near a seam that failed on the ruptured Pegasus Pipeline, said officials at the oil giant.

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Exxon and the regulatory agency declined to release the report, produced by Hurst Metallurgical Research Laboratory Inc.

The company said the defects identified in the report reflect the “root cause of the failure.” Exxon said it is still conducting tests to evaluate other possible factors in the March 29 spill, which forced more than 20 families from their homes. The cleanup is continuing and the pipeline remains shut down.

“Based on the metallurgical analysis, the independent laboratory concluded that the root cause of the failure can be attributed to original manufacturing defects — namely hook cracks near the seam.” Exxon said. “Additional contributing factors include atypical pipe properties, such as extremely low impact toughness and elongation properties across the … seam.”

“We are still conducting supplemental testing, which will help us understand all factors associated with the pipe failure and allow for the verification of the integrity of the Pegasus Pipeline. These tests will help us determine the mitigation steps we need to take to ensure a similar incident does not occur again,” the company said.

Exxon said, citing the report, that corrosion wasn’t a contributing factor to the spill.

Oil from the pipeline flowed through a neighborhood and into a cove that’s part of Lake Conway. The company says testing showed that oil did not extend into the main body of the lake.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said last month there is no distinction between the cove and the lake. McDaniel and U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer filed a joint lawsuit seeking $45,000 per day in penalties for the effects of the spill.

McDaniel said the spill itself was a violation of state and federal law and that it badly disrupted the lives of the displaced people.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 @ 08:05 AM gHale

The part of the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline that leaked a small amount of oil last week in Missouri is now up and running.

A resident near Doniphan, MO, found oil leaking in his yard Tuesday. All told, about one barrel – about 42 gallons of crude oil — leaked from the Pegasus pipeline. The cause remains under investigation. The company completed the repair Friday.

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The pipeline running from Illinois to Texas already was out of service after a much larger breach in Arkansas in March. While the pressure was lower because the pipeline was down, but there was oil inside.

About 5,000 barrels of oil spilled in Mayflower, AR, in March. The cause of that leak is also under investigation.

Originally built in the late 1940s, the Pegasus pipeline is now the subject of scrutiny, as environmentalists argue the increased corrosive impact of transporting tar sands oil presents a greater concern than other forms of oil.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is ultimately responsible for approving the Pegasus pipeline’s restart.

On April 26 the PHMSA released a report on the Mayflower spill that gave more details. Of the approximately 5,000 barrels of crude oil involved in the pipeline breach, ExxonMobil cleaned up less than half.

The report also pointed to the contamination of surface water, accounting for 2,000 barrels of oil located in ditches and a cove south of nearby Lake Conway. Though the latest report does not indicate oil reached the larger body of Lake Conway, an independent study conducted by Opflex Solutions indicated otherwise.

As for the breach of the pipeline itself, according to the PHMSA that was caused by a “longitudinal rupture” in the pipe seam, originally laid down in 1947. The 20-inch, 858-mile Pegasus line delivers Western Canadian crude oil (or tar sands oil) from the Patoka Oil Terminal Hub in Illinois to refineries in Nederland, Texas.

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