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Are pipelines safe?

Yes. Strict standards govern the construction and operation of pipelines, which are the safest and most efficient manner of transporting energy products. According to statistics gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, only one of every 10,000 transportation accidents in the U.S. involves pipelines.

What is a "pipeline right-of-way"?

A "pipeline right-of-way" is an area around an aboveground or underground pipeline where the easement holder, such as a pipeline operator, has a legal right to use the property for a specific purpose.  In order to ensure the safety of people and property, the easement restricts how the surface property can be used or altered.

What is an encroachment?

An encroachment is anything placed into a pipeline right-of-way that could affect the ability of the pipeline operator to use it. Typically, Shell allows property owners to use pipeline easement areas within certain guidelines established by Shell or as specified within the easement.

These guidelines generally allow the property owner to continue with any agricultural or other activities that pose no threat to the long-term integrity of the pipeline.  Questions or a request for an encroachment should be addressed to:

Manager, Land & Permitting
Shell Pipeline Company LP
P.O. Box 2648
Houston, TX 77252-2648

Why does Shell prohibit trees and permanent structures in its pipeline rights-of-way?

Trees and large shrubs obstruct the view for foot patrols and aerial inspections, which are routine procedures for maintaining the rights-of-way. In order to keep our pipeline operations as safe and reliable as possible, Shell must have unrestricted access to all of its facilities at all times for regular maintenance or during emergencies. A clear right-of-way makes it easier to identify and monitor pipeline facilities, which is necessary to prevent third-party damage.

What are pipeline markers? Why are they located where they are?

Pipelines Signs

Pipeline markers provide useful information concerning nearby pipelines.

These markers or signs indicate the approximate – not the exact - location of the pipelines, which may or may not run in a straight line between any two markers. As a result, they cannot be relied on to provide information on pipeline location. You can obtain information about Shell’s pipelines by calling 1-800-922-3459.

It is against the law to willfully and knowingly deface, damage, remove or destroy any pipeline sign or right-of-way post.

Who do I call to locate Shell’s pipeline or facilities on my property?

State law requires you to call 811 (the National “Call Before You Dig” number) or your local One-Call Center at least 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, before you begin any digging project, large or small, within a pipeline easement area; some states require 72 hours notice. The One-Call Center will notify the companies responsible for locating the facilities within their area.

Why should I call 811 before every dig?

It’s the law – and it's the smart thing to do. Whether you're a homeowner or a professional excavator, you are required to call 811 before you dig.

Knowing where underground utility lines are buried before you dig will help protect you from injury and prevent damages to utilities, service disruptions and possibly even fines and repair costs. Whether you're planting a tree or shrub or installing a deck or pool, every job requires a call, even if you've called before for a similar project.

I've called my local "Call Before You Dig" number before. Will 811 replace this service?

No, 811 will not replace your local One-Call number. The national number was put in place to enhance and improve the one-call process. With more than 62 local One-Call numbers across the country, 811 eliminates the confusion about what number to call in your area.

Can I call 811 on weekends?

Laws vary from state to state. Call 811, and a customer service representative will assist you.

How far in advance do I need to call?

State laws vary from 48 to 72 hours, most excluding weekends and legal holidays. Call 811 directly, and the customer service representative will provide specific information.

Can I obtain a printed layout of lines buried on my property?

No. If you intend to dig, call 811 and professional locators will mark the approximate location of the buried facilities with paint or flags.

Do the colors of the paint and flags indicate anything in particular?

Yes. The colors indicate what type of underground facility is buried belowground.

  • Red – electric 
  • Orange – communications, telephone/CATV 
  • Blue – potable water 
  • Green – sewer/drainage 
  • Yellow –  gas/petroleum pipeline
  • Purple – reclaimed water 
  • Pink – temporary survey marker
  • White – pre-marked site of intended excavation

What does Shell do in case of an emergency?

First we take steps necessary to protect life and property by shutting off the flow of product through the pipeline, isolating the affected section of pipe and calling emergency response organizations.  We also immediately assemble and deploy a team of experts to the location to address the emergency.

Our primary concern is the safety of the community and our response team. Once all safety issues are addressed, we begin assessing any property damage resulting from the incident. We also take steps to preserve the integrity of the site and work closely with local, state and federal agencies to determine the cause of the incident and appropriate remedial measures.

What do Shell's emergency response plans cover?

Our plans outline the steps to be taken in the event of a fire, rupture, major leak or serious incident occurring at or near one of our facilities. These plans were developed to prepare our employees and local emergency response personnel to handle emergency situations involving our facilities and to protect the public.

They describe the roles and responsibilities of all company, contractor and local response personnel. Communication and cooperation with local organizations are key components of the emergency response plans, and the feedback from these interactions is used to develop and revise these plans.

How does Shell prepare for an emergency?

Our employees undergo training and attend crisis response workshops and emergency drills, to learn the roles they would fulfill in the event of an emergency. We also hold ongoing public awareness and community education meetings to inform the public of the proper response to an emergency. In addition, we meet regularly with emergency responders, which enables company employees and emergency personnel to work as a team when responding to an emergency situation.

How often does Shell monitor its pipelines?

Shell adheres to strict federal laws that require pipeline operators to continuously monitor and maintain pipeline segments in areas where the consequences of their failure could be significant.

We monitor our entire pipeline network from our control center 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using computer and telecommunications equipment located across the system. These centers continuously monitor flow, pressure and other data that indicate the condition of the pipeline system.

Does Shell inspect its pipelines?

Yes.  As part of our comprehensive safety program, we inspect and test our pipeline systems regularly.

  • We monitor pipelines by air and/or ground to identify and prevent any unauthorized activity.
  • We inspect pipeline rights-of-way for unusual changes in vegetation that might indicate a leak.
  • We test, inspect and monitor the cathodic protection system on our pipelines that helps prevent corrosion.
  • We use various tools and technologies to help ensure that our pipelines are sound and fit for purpose.
  • We inspect and test valves on the pipelines.
  • When pipe is exposed for any reason, we inspect the condition of the pipe and its coatings and, if necessary, make repairs.