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Quiz: test your knowledge of pipeline incidents!

In the USA, the ‘Call Before You Dig’ phone number is simply ‘811’.  So August 11 (8/11) is designated as National 811 Day!  The intent is to call attention to the need for anyone performing a dig to contact the local authorities, to prevent damage to underground utilities, and to ensure the safety of the public.


Pipelines are a safe and effective way to transport fuels.  But even in this safety-focused industry, there are incidents where damages occur, injuries are sustained, and costs are incurred.  So what do you think is the single biggest cause of pipeline incidents?

Incorrect operation?   Corrosion?   Natural forces?   Material failure?

Actually, the greatest single cause of pipeline incidents are caused by excavation damage; digging in the proximity of a pipeline.  According to PHMSA (the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), every six minutes, an underground pipeline in the US is damaged by excavation.

So here is a little quiz to test your knowledge about pipeline incidents!

Pipeline incident quiz

Question 1:  Since 2010, about how much cost (in millions of $USD) was caused to pipelines by excavation damage?

A) USD $12 million
B) USD $28 million
C) USD $42 million
D) USD $56 million

Now Question 2:  What percent of all pipeline incident costs were caused by excavation damage?

A) 36%
B) 27%
C) 21%
D) 18%

And finally, Question 3: there are safeguards in place to notify the proper authorities when an excavation will occur, but what amount of digging incidents actually happen even after the proper calls are made?

A) 1/5
B) 1/3
C) 1/2
D) 2/3

And now the answers:

For Question 1, the correct answer is (D); in the US alone, approximately USD $56 million of costs were incurred each year by excavation damage.

As for Question 2, the answer is (A); damage from excavations made up more than one-third (36%) of all total incident costs.

And for Question 3, believe it or not, the answer is (D); fully two-thirds of all incidents that occur happen even after the ‘Call Before you Dig’ process is properly followed.

What to do?

The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has reported on excavation safety, and found that there were 1,630 pipeline incidents caused by third party excavation damage from 1993 to 2012.  As a result, these incidents caused 141 deaths, 440 injuries, and more than USD $350 million in damage.  So clearly this process could benefit from some new and innovative ideas.

There are thousands of calls made every day to the various ‘One Call’ agencies throughout the world.  Even a small utility may get several hundred dig notifications per day.  Due to the sheer numbers, a company representative cannot possibly oversee every single dig.  Therefore, each call needs to be analyzed and prioritized.  But what qualitative data are you using to measure the risk of each dig?

In advance of a potential incident at a dig site, can you identify:

  • How many customers would be affected?
  • The perimeter of potential hazard around the dig site?
  • The means to isolate this part of your network?

Manage your risk – minimize pipeline incidents

As part of DNV GL’s move toward a single Pipeline Ecosystem concept, that brings all the functions of a pipeline operation together, we have been developing the Synergi Ticket Risk Assessment system.  This solution uses the proven capabilities of the products in our Pipeline Ecosystem:

All of these features are brought together into an intuitive, web-based interface, allowing excavation risks to be readily identified.  Risks are based on the proximity to gas lines, the flows and pressures within, the neighborhood in which they reside, and even the excavator and method of dig.

So learn more: watch the video about the Synergi Ticket Risk Assessment system.  You can learn more details at dnvgl.com/ticketrisk.

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