Mole Ploughs pose risk to buried pipelines

Did you know mole ploughing is one of the highest risk activities the farming community can undertake around buried pipelines?

This is because our buried high pressure oil pipelines are typically only 4ft (or just over a metre) deep, and in some cases can be shallower.  To ensure safety, we advise that a minimum pipeline clearance depth of around 2ft/600mm should always be in place.

Mole ploughing is a method of installing small diameter polyethylene pipes in rural areas quickly and with minimal disruption or environmental impact. Mole ploughing allows small diameter mains and services pipes to be inserted without having to dig wide trenches by creating a narrow temporary trench for installing.  The depth of the pipeline insertion can however potentially cause damage to buried high pressure oil pipelines.

So, if you are undertaking mole ploughing, make sure you contact BPA and, if necessary, the team can visit the site, check the pipeline depth and help to ensure your works are safe and there are no injuries caused.  Remember that the pipeline operator needs to be contacted if you are planning to undertake works within a 80ft/25m zone around our pipelines.

Although field markers are a good indicator of pipelines under your land, remember that marker posts do not always run in straight lines and that there can be bends under the ground.  To be sure, contact BPA and let us help determine the exact location of the pipeline so you or your contractors can operate safely and without risk to the public or environment.

Buried oil pipelines

Each year we write to the landowners and tenants along our network of more than 1000km of buried oil pipelines that transport fuel cross-country and at high pressure.  This helps us ensure we have the correct contact details should we need to contact them in an emergency, and it also provides us with an opportunity to remind them of the support we offer and the best practice when operating near to the pipelines.

The buried pipelines are needed to supply fuel to distribution terminals and major airports across the country.  Transporting fuel via buried pipelines remains the most environmentally friendly way of moving fuel, however they remain susceptible to damage if works are undertaken near them without adherence to our pipeline safety guidelines.  Damage caused to the pipeline could prove not only costly but potentially fatal.

Landowners run the risk of damaging buried oil pipelines if they do not follow our advice and guidance.  Pipelines don’t always run in straight lines between marker posts and so we ask landowners to contact the team if they are unsure of a pipeline’s location. We are happy to visit site and mark out the exact location of the pipeline.

The Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996 states that no person shall cause such damage to a pipeline as may give rise to a danger to persons. People are therefore asked to maintain a minimum distance of 3m from buried pipelines when installing fencing, clearing ditches or undertaking any works that may cause disruption to the ground above the pipeline.

Breaking these conditions can lead to prosecution, injury or even death. Should there be an incident, those commissioning the works (or their contractor) are responsible for any liability under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.  Damaging a buried pipeline can also cause environmental damage whether to the soil, water and the atmosphere which is likely to lead to prosecution by the Environment Agency.  The repair and subsequent clean-up costs of a pipeline incident are typically in the region of £10m.

BPA is empowered to stop all works near the pipeline if it is considered to be unsafe to the pipeline, however we recognise that works near our pipelines are often necessary and that is why our Lands Team is available to support landowners in undertaking those works safely.

Before starting any works near to pipelines, please contact BPA free 24/7 on 0800 585 387 to arrange for a free site meeting.  Always Know What’s Below before starting any works in the vicinity of buried pipelines.

Delivering BPA landowner letters

BPA has launched its ‘Know What’s Below’ campaign again this year to ensure good communications with the landowners along its 1000km of buried oil pipelines.

The aim is to ensure all details are up to date so that BPA can keep landowners informed of any works being undertaken to the buried oil pipelines and to ensure landowners can in turn contact the company should they need to inform them of any works being undertaken in the vicinity of the pipeline or to report any suspicious activities or incidents.

BPA’s Landowner Services team has issued letters to nearly 2000 landowner and tenants along BPA’s 1000km of buried high-pressure pipelines in the UK.

The letters ask all landowners or tenants to respond using the enclosed form and self-addressed envelope so that BPA can ensure that their records are up to date and that they have the correct details should we need to contact landowners in the event of an emergency or planned works.

The letter also provides information on who landowners need to contact, and what to do, if they are required to operate in the vicinity of one of the high-pressure fuel pipelines.

Respond by end of May

Those who respond to the request and return their completed forms in the self-addressed envelope by the end of May will automatically be entered into a prize draw to receive one of five luxurious hampers.

Please keep a look out for BPA’s ‘Know What’s Below’ campaign letters and ensure that you promptly return them to a member of the BPA Landowner Services team.  Contact the team for further information.

Danger to buried oil pipelines when ditching & fencing

Landowners looking to undertake ditching or fencing works need to be aware that the UK has an extensive network of pipelines that bisect the country, transporting oil, gas and chemical products across country and through suburban areas.

The buried pipelines operate at high pressure (up to 50 times that of a car tyre) and are often only at a nominal depth of only one metre.  Due to the flammable, and potentially hazardous nature of the products contained, anyone proposing fencing or ditching works near to a pipeline needs to be aware of the potential dangers, what to do and who to contact before commencing works.

The BPA Lands team is here to help and are here to support landowners, contractors or others when working near to BPA’s buried pipelines by providing information and resource at no cost.  With the right information and advice, we hope to reduce the risk of a serious incident on the pipeline network that we manage.

However to ensure the best and safest outcomes for all we ask that those who are looking to undertake any works within three metres of a buried BPA pipeline to:

  1. Please give a minimum of 7 days notice before works begin. This will ensure we can fully support you with your proposed activities.
  2. Never assume you can go ahead unless consent is given. BPA’s team will be on hand to support your work, however, works should not begin until permission is granted.
  3. Be aware pipeline depths vary under ditches and are not always protected with slabs. Be aware that pipeline depths vary across the country and can often be found only a metre below the surface, they are also seldom protected with concrete slabs.
  4. Seek advice as pipelines do not always run in straight lines between marker posts. Although posts are used to mark the location of a pipeline at a field boundary, not all pipelines run in straight lines between posts. We’re here to help mark out the exact location.
  5. Be aware that other infrastructure, such as cables, can be buried shallower than the pipeline. Often there are other potentially hazardous or safety critical infrastructure buried along the pipeline lengths, these can be found at even shallower depth to the pipeline.

Please be aware that it’s also the landowner’s responsibility to ensure that contractors operating on their land comply with regulations.  Working near pipelines without taking the correct precautions can have serious consequences.

If there is any doubt, please contact a member of the BPA lands team on freephone 0800 585 387.


Buried oil pipelines in Cheshire

Works have recently been completed that required sections of the buried oil pipelines in Cheshire to be exposed.  The pipeline’s depth of cover was measured and the works were undertaken to ensure that there was adequate cover to protect the landowner and contractors who may be operating in the pipeline’s vicinity.

As part of BPA’s regular line walking, monitoring and surveying activities, it was decided that this section of buried oil pipeline in Cheshire should be excavated so that a section of the high pressure oil pipeline could be replaced at a greater depth.

High-pressure oil and gas pipelines are laid in welded steel sections, at a nominal depth of at least one meter.  BPA’s buried pipelines carry oil at pressures of up to fifteen hundred PSI, that’s at least 50 times the pressure of an average car tyre, and can pose a risk to people or the environment if they are damaged.

To prevent against accident, contractors working near to pipelines have a legal duty of care to protect their personnel, the general public and the environment when operating in the vicinity of the pipeline.  As such anyone working within 3 meters either side of the pipeline is required to contact the pipeline operator to ensure compliance with legislation.

When contacting BPA, the team will ask for details regarding the proposed works and will support landowners by outlining all the required health and safety requirements.  Landowners or contractors who don’t inform landowners not only risk breaking the law, but could potentially be putting someone’s life at risk.

Once informed of works on the buried oil pipelines, BPA can support landowners or contractors by providing maps that show the exact location of the pipeline and help mark out its route for any activities.  There is no charge for this service and the pipeline operator will always deal with a landowner in an emergency.

Exposing the buried oil pipeline in Cheshire, clearly shows that pipelines can often be found at a nominal depth of only one metre.  It also shows that pipelines often do not run in straight lines between field markers and that landowners should contact the pipeline operator if in doubt.

If landowners or contractors have any questions regarding the pipelines that run under their land, please contact a member of the BPA’s Lands Team and they would be more than happy to assist.

Buried pipelines

The fine spring weather is allowing farmers to get groundwork underway during one of the busiest times of the year and while ploughing and sowing are happening at full pelt as well as regular maintenance work such as ditch clearing and fencing, farmers and landowners must always be aware of the hazards associated with damaging buried pipelines.

Many pipelines carrying highly flammable products are less than one metre from the surface and if no care is taken can be damaged by invasive farm machinery. Holing a pipeline can result in injury, death or significant environmental damage including pollution of soil, water and the atmosphere. Typical costs of repairing and cleaning up following an incident can run into the millions of pounds.

British Pipeline Agency Ltd (BPA)

BPA distributes highly flammable fuels via more than 1,000km of buried high-pressure fuel pipelines across the UK.  If you are in any doubt about the location of a pipeline beneath your land, contact BPA and we will come and locate the pipeline and give advice to ensure the safety of those working close to the line.  Our `Know what’s Below’ campaign aims to give advice and inform farmers and landowners about their responsibilities.

BPA advice:

If you’re planning on working near a pipeline, we are asking farmers, landowners or contractors to contact BPA in advance of any work being undertaken.  Please also contact BPA’s Lands Team if the line is not clearly marked and we will be happy to arrange for a free site visit to help detail the pipeline’s route.  BPA’s Lands Team is typically able to visit a site within seven days of a request.  We would also ask all landowners to inform third parties or contractors of the pipeline and the precautions that are required if working in its vicinity.

Please don’t just assume it’s ok to drill or dig near a pipeline or to clean ditches with mechanical diggers without speaking to BPA first.  Using use heavy machinery close to a pipeline, erecting fences across a pipeline or installing or repairing land drainage networks near to the pipeline requires prior notice and authorisation.

Please also be aware of any suspicious activities near to the pipeline network and contact a member of BPA’s lands team if you have concerns.  We are here and ready to help, so if you are thinking of undertaking work near to a pipeline, call BPA free on 0800 585 387 and if necessary a team member will come out for a free site visit and give advice.

Thank you for your continued support.

BPA's Know What's Below

BPA’s Know What’s Below campaign has received an overwhelming response from the letters it recently issued to nearly 2000 landowner and tenants along its 1000km pipeline network in the UK.

Recipients have responded in record numbers using the enclosed form and self-addressed envelopes, however the BPA Lands Department is keen for those still yet to respond to do so as soon as possible.

By responding, BPA is able to ensure all records are up to date and that they have the correct details should need to be contacted in the event of an emergency.  The letter also provides information on who landowners need to contact, and what to do, if they are required to operate in the vicinity of one of the high-pressure fuel pipelines.  By confirming the landowner details BPA, is able to contact the appropriate person in the need of an emergency.  The Know What’s Below communications campaign also aims to ensure that landowners and tenants along BPA’s pipeline network have the correct details should the need to get hold of a member of the BPA team in the case of a pipeline emergency.

Push for responses

With one final push for responses, BPA is set to select five lucky winners to each receive a luxurious hamper as part of an annual prize draw.  The prize draw for the delicious £100 hamper is made at Christmas, with the winners notified directly by a member of the BPA Lands team.  The BPA team regularly undertakes line walking exercises to survey the land and often makes contact with landowners along the BPA Pipeline network.  This helps ensure that the team is on hand, approachable and available to add expertise and advice to landowners.

If you’ve still not submitted your response, please do so as soon as possible or call a member of BPA’s Lands Department on 0800 585 387 if you are unsure or have lost your documents.  Click here to email the team.

BPA Pipeline repairs

The BPA team has successfully excavated more than 13m of pipeline in Beeston, Cheshire, to undertake repair works to the pipeline’s infrastructure.  The works were completed following close liaison and support from the landowner, allowing for minimal disruption and for normal farming activities to resume promptly.

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