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Leaks from high pressure oil pipelines

Hazard Knowledge

A UK-wide network of high pressure oil pipelines transport flammable liquids, including petrol, diesel, aviation fuel and oil. Several liquids may be in a pipeline and pressures can be as high as 85bar. If a leak or breach occurs, a mixture of liquids could be released.

Oil pipelines are typically 100 to 400mm diameter steel pipes, laid in 1.5m deep excavations. Marker posts normally identify the pipeline route. If damaged, up to two million litres of product could be released over a 30-minute period, resulting in a significant environmental emergency. For more information refer to Foundation for environmental protection – High-pressure oil pipelines.

Pollution from high pressure oil pipelines can occur from:

  • Mechanical failure of pipeline machinery
  • Accidental pipeline strike
  • Illegal activity (pipe tapping)