Colonial leak shows infrastructure vulnerability: Moniz

OREANDA-NEWS. September 29, 2016. Gasoline supply disruptions stemming from a leak on the Colonial Pipeline offers the latest example of the US' vulnerability to aging energy infrastructure, US energy secretary Ernest Moniz said today.

The leak, discovered earlier this month, shut service on part of the 5,500-mile (8,851km) pipeline system for nearly two weeks. Colonial bypassed the affected area and began restoring service on 21 September, but not before the leak caused gasoline supply disruptions across the southeastern US. Moniz today expressed concern at the US' vulnerability to the disruptions on the pipeline.

"It is incredible, by the way, the risk profile we have with one pipeline carrying half the gasoline supply to the east coast, 70pc in many southeastern states," Moniz said today at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress, a think tank based in Washington, DC.

Colonial shut down service on Line 1, a critical part of the pipeline, on 9 September after finding a leak in Alabama. Line 1 moves roughly 1.3mn b/d of gasoline from terminals in Texas to distribution points in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Colonial plans to eventually restore the broken section of pipe.

The strong reliance on Colonial to supply gasoline to the southeastern US creates a "vulnerability that is obvious in a very old, more than 50-year-old piece of infrastructure," Moniz said today. The pipeline became fully operational in 1964.

He used the leak to call attention to threats facing US energy infrastructure, such as the age of existing infrastructure, rapid shifts in where energy is produced, and extreme weather events linked to climate change.

The US Energy Department last year called for the repair and modernization of US oil and gas infrastructure through a sweeping study called the Quadrennial Energy Review. Moniz today reiterated a recommendation in the report that the US Congress should find ways to spur investments in energy infrastructure, particularly the infrastructure needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Congress needs to do more, to be perfectly honest, in terms of setting the signals today so that the vision that we need can be implemented through what are in the energy business very long cycles for planning and capital allocation," Moniz said.

Colonial declined to comment.