Pipelines under tighter security after attacks

Sunday, September 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Energy pipeline companies, including two in Tulsa, are increasing patrols and improving security systems in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Many companies are locking gates, putting up fences and hiring armed guards to protect against terrorism.

About 380,000 miles of pipeline transport oil, gasoline and natural gas across the country. Most pipelines are buried, but industry officials said pump stations, tank farms and remote segments of pipeline are vulnerable to an attack.

Williams Cos. Inc. and Explorer Pipeline Co., both based in Tulsa, control about 10 percent of the coast-to-coast pipeline network.

``In many cases, we have hired armed guards to patrol the perimeter of our locations,'' said Steven J. Malcolm, president of Williams.

Other safety measures include bomb-sniffing dogs at marine terminals near New York Harbor and along the Gulf Coast, Malcolm told the Tulsa World.

Williams, the nation's second-largest gas pipeline company, operates 27,300 miles of gas pipeline and delivers about 16 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States.

Explorer has a 1,400-mile pipeline system, which extends from the Gulf Coast to Chicago. It transports gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel.

Tim Felt, president and chief executive officer of Explorer, said he and his staff met Thursday to review the company's security procedures.

He said the pipeline is well protected because nearly all of the lines are buried. Other assets, including pumping stations and storage tanks, are fenced and secured.

``Key facilities along the line are manned 24 hours a day,'' he said. ``In addition to that, we have stepped up vehicle and foot patrols since the incidents last week.''

Explorer is owned by a consortium of companies, including Tulsa-based CITGO Petroleum Corp., Conoco Inc., Chevron Inc. and Texaco Inc. The pipeline ships about 560,000 barrels of liquid fuels per day to markets in the Midwest.

Security has also been tightened in Cushing, where some of the nation's largest oil pipelines intersect. The town is about 50 miles west of Tulsa in Payne County.

As many as 30 million barrels of oil can be stored there, making Cushing the official drop point for crude oil futures contracts made with the New York Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest energy futures exchange.

Equilon Enterprises LLC, one of 11 companies that store large amounts of oil at terminals in Cushing, has implemented new security measures at its Cushing terminal.

``We did have an open-gate policy during the day. It's a closed-gate policy now,'' said Eric Sluis of Equilon. ``We also have hired off-duty police officers from the Cushing police force to patrol at night.''