UKOPA and its members operate over 27,000kms of pipelines conveying gas, chemicals, oils and refined products across the UK. Safe operation of this network is a vital part of domestic and industrial life in this country and the UK pipeline industry has an excellent safety record. This record can only be maintained if we continue to work with all industry, stakeholders, including contractors and utilities, with regulators and with the wider community.
Pipeline damage arising from uncontrolled excavation or other ground penetrating activities forms a major part of the risk of a pipeline failure, loss of containment and subsequent fire or explosion. There are now more companies involved in digging holes across the UK than ever before. Latest estimates put this figure at around 4 million holes dug by utility companies annually and this excludes any excavations made as part of construction projects.
Consequently, UKOPA is working hard to identify the sources of pipeline damage, how they occur, and how they can be prevented. This webpage provides key information arising from the work of UKOPA’s Infringement Working Group (IWG), comprised of industry members and the HSE.
UKOPA’s aim is to work with all sectors of industry, including contractors and utilities, to eliminate the threat of damage to hazardous pipelines and in doing so further improve the UK’s pipeline safety record.
UKOPA analysis of pipeline damage prepared by the IWG clearly shows that a high proportion of incidents that have caused or likely to cause pipeline damage are a result of work undertaken by contractors and utility companies. In this connection, contractors and utilities are required to contact pipeline operators during the planning of any works to establish whether any pipelines are affected by the proposed operations, and it is noted that reference to Linewatch may be helpful in this respect – see weblink below). UKOPA members will provide information and onsite support free of charge in order to reduce the possibility of such damage to the pipeline.