Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pipelines, Pipelines, Where Are Those Pipelines?

Colorado Public Utilities Commission
Last week, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report that indicated understanding of the nation's underground pipeline system is not what it should be.  In this case, the report focused on the "gas gathering lines" associated with the business of shale deposit natural gas recovery.  Specifically, the pipes used to transport gas captured from these fields to processing facilities are currently unregulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).  As a result, there is a pipeline network thousands of miles in length and rapidly expanding about which very little is known - even location.  To learn more, use the links below:

Comment: Despite my best effort to avoid the pun, all I can say is the only way to get a handle on this "booming" business going forward is GIS.  Indeed, while the specific concerns of this report are directed at shale gas producing states like Pennsylvania and Texas, national understanding of the location and health of the pipeline transportation system is far less than it should be.  Case in point: The March 17, 2011, explosion of a CenterPoint natural gas main in Minneapolis.  Consequently, look for GIS use to "explode" in this sector as the nation tries to come to grips with an aging infrastructure of HAZMAT pipes and a rapidly expanding natural gas extraction industry.

For more on this subject, consider a read of: Pipelines, Black Swans and Data Governance by J. Tracy Thorleifson.

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