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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.

 

BPA supporting UKOPA

The team at BPA was delighted to be involved in supporting our colleagues from the United Kingdom Onshore Pipeline Operators Association (UKOPA) with their latest video to help raise awareness of the pipeline amongst both landowners and contractors.

UKOPA is the authoritative industry body behind the essential energy pipeline infrastructure. The UK’s 27,000km pipeline network provides the safest and most efficient means of transporting a range of hazardous fluids, and pipeline operators are constantly working to improve safety and protect the environment.  The organisation, established in 1996, has brought operators together and helped them engage more effectively with each other, as well as with regulators and other key stakeholders.

The filming took place just outside of Milton Keynes where BPA’s lands team are involved in supporting landowners, contractors and local authorities during the development of the site into a multifunctional space for schools, housing and commercial buildings.

BPA’s lands team helped supervise ground works by marking out the pipeline for contractors and also being on hand while excavation work was carried out to ensure the pipeline was protected at all times.  The works were recorded and will be shared with other landowners and contractors looking to carry our similar works.

The video aims to help prevent damage to pipelines as this can have serious consequences including: environmental damage if product was to leak into the soil, water or atmosphere; financial penalty as any repairs or subsequent clean-ups costs can run into the millions as well as potential prosecution under The Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996 – which states that no person shall cause such damage to a pipeline as may give rise to a danger to persons.

Perhaps the most important reason for contacting BPA in advance of any works near to the pipeline are the risks of injury or even death caused by damaging the pipeline.  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.  The video aims to highlight these issues amongst landowners and contractors.

BPA’s lands team is on hand to support landowners or contractors who are planning to work anywhere near our pipelines.  Please call BPA free on 0800 585 387 and we will come and locate the pipeline, provide advice and ensure your safety.

CIPS Survey clearance

BPA’s lands team is undertaking a programme of scrub clearance works at more than 60 sites along the route of the buried high-pressure oil pipelines that BPA manages in the UK.

The scrub clearance is in preparation for a new CIPs survey which is scheduled to start in October and run until the end of November 2020.   The work will take place on the LAP pipeline that feeds Heathrow Airport, the buried pipeline that runs between the Thames Pump Station and the Epping Pump Station and also the buried high-pressure oil pipeline that runs between the Blisworth Pump Station and the Oil Storage Terminal at Kingsbury.

A CIPS survey is sometimes referred to as Close Interval Survey, which is an above ground, non-intrusive survey, used to accurately determine the effectiveness of the cathodic protection system along the pipelines.  The survey helps ensure that the integrity of the pipeline remains protected from corrosion.

The pipe-to-soil readings are measured at test points typically installed at 1 to 2 kilometre intervals along the pipeline route, however these measurements do not accurately reflect the pipe-to-soil potentials between test points.

To overcome this, a close interval potential survey (CIPS) is undertaken, with pipe-to-soil potentials measured at nominal 2 metre intervals. The CIPS technique can be employed for both buried (onshore) and immersed (offshore) pipelines.

To allow BPA’s Lands team access to points on the ground above the buried pipelines a programme of scrub clearance is being undertaken at points where readings will be taken.  BPA will write to all affected landowners and tenants ahead of the survey. If you have any special access arrangements or any that may have changed please let us know.

The team at BPA will be wearing high-vis clothing and following all the correct procedures required for working near to buried pipelines.

Keep a watch out for the team and don’t forget to contact the BPA Lands Team if you see anything suspicious or any unusual activity along the buried pipeline network.  If in doubt, simply call us on 0800 585 387 and we will do the rest.

 

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.