(Rigzone, Friday, November 22, 2019) – As the CEO of Houston-based energy infrastructure firm Lineal Star Holdings, Tim Connolly appreciates better than most the robust demand for oil, gas and products' shipping capacity on pipelines throughout the United States.

“It is an exciting time for the pipeline industry and the growth in oil and gas production now being sold into both domestic and international markets,” Connolly told Rigzone. “In previous years when the U.S. was a net importer of energy, we sent billions of dollars from American citizens to other countries for their energy. Now that position has completely reversed, thus bringing in new billions of dollars to our economy, helping improve the prosperity and balance of payments in the U.S.”

Although Connolly sees benefits for the U.S. pipeline sector, he also expresses concern about the overall condition of the country’s pipeline infrastructure. He is hardly the only one. In its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the U.S. energy system – including nearly 3 million miles of oil and gas pipelines – a D+ grade.

To be sure, ASCE’s grade encompasses assets held by the oil and gas sector as well as electrical utilities. Moreover, the organization’s report acknowledges that pipeline construction has advanced “at a fairly brisk pace to address new sources” since 2013. Nevertheless, ASCE also pointed out that periodic failures in existing pipelines and permitting delays are ongoing problems and underscore the need for better monitoring and maintenance.

For its part, the pipeline industry takes steps to improve its already strong safety record. For instance, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) collaborate on a liquids pipeline industry-wide endeavor to enhance pipeline safety organizational culture, accelerate development and adoption of new inspection and leak-detection tools, improve emergency response preparedness and better inform and engage stakeholders. Gas pipeline companies also integrate various safety measures into their operations on an ongoing basis, outlined in this Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) document.

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