Magellan urges Congress to fund study of pipeline issues

By | March 27, 2007
Mike Mears, vice president of transportation for Magellan Midstream Partners, testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in February, urging Congress to take a role in finding solutions to the problems that hinder the transportation of fuel ethanol via pipeline.

No ethanol is currently transported via pipeline, and in general, the industry has limited experience in this area. It is appropriate for Congress to study the variables and help to fund a study that would explore some technical issues associated with piping ethanol, Mears said.

Pipelines are an efficient, safe, economic and reliable way to transport large volumes of liquid fuels. However, a number of operational, technical and economic issues associated with the potential transportation of ethanol in pipeline systems exist. The largest challenge, and the largest unknown variable, is the occurrence of stress corrosion fractures, phenomenons that occur when a weld in a carbon steel pipeline or tank cracks. Mears emphasized that there remain many unknown answers to questions about stress corrosion cracking. He believes it is the primary issue that should be studied and funded by Congress.

"It is our responsibility to prevent pipeline leaks and protect the environment, so a complete understanding of this issue will be necessary before we are comfortable in considering ethanol transportation by pipeline," Mears said before the committee. "Targeted industry research on this matter is underway."

Magellan, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., owns and operates the nation's longest refined-products pipeline system, and offers 81 refined products. Its pipelines run from the Texas Gulf Coast to Minnesota.