Key Crude Oil and Products Pipelines Are Vulnerable to Disruptions

EMD-79-63: Published: Aug 27, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 27, 1979.

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No Federal legislation deals comprehensively with the issue of physical security of petroleum pipelines. GAO reviewed the Capline, Trans-Alaska, and Colonial petroleum pipeline systems in order to: assess the vulnerability of major U.S. oil and refined petroleum product pipelines to sabotage, natural disasters, or other causes; determine the impact major disruptions may have on the United States as a whole or on certain geographical areas; assess the adequacy of industry and Federal Government measures to protect pipelines from disruptions; and assess the adequacy of industry and Federal Government contingency planning for minimizing the impact of disruptions.

Although industry is capable of quickly repairing minor damage, such as breaks in pipe, it may take 6 months or more to repair complex facilities, such as pump stations. In the interim, the flow of petroleum could be severely curtailed and cause excessive hardships, since neither industry nor Government has contingency plans.

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