By the OGJ Online Staff
WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 18 --Responding to heightened concern over possible terrorist attacks, industry officials Tuesday sought to assure the public that pipelines are secure and operating normally.
"The American public should rest assured that oil pipeline operators nationwide have heightened security measures and increased surveillance of sensitive locations for the purpose of ensuring the security and safe operation of this nation's oil pipeline system," said Ben Cooper, executive director of the Association Of Oil Pipe Lines.
Oil pipelines carry more than two-thirds of US oil supplies, Cooper said, and the security of that system is industry's "top" priority.
In some cases, pipelines have been temporarily shut down while operators reviewed security risks. None have been detected, but operators are fully prepared to act if shutdowns are necessary in the future, Cooper said. He said all oil pipelines were operating under normal conditions.
He added that the oil pipeline industry is in contact with the Transportation Department's Office of Pipeline Safety. Pipeline operators will be complying with DOT directives to protect pipelines and to develop longer-term plans for protecting their systems, Cooper said.
"While oil pipelines have emergency security measures to address natural disasters or other catastrophic events such as terrorism, these measures are being reviewed in light of recent tragic events. As part of this process, we are surveying our members to gather information on
specific steps they are taking to enhance protection against possible terrorist activities," he said.
Pending before Congress is a bill that seeks to boost the safety of the country's oil and gas pipelines through more federal government oversight. It is unclear whether that bill will be considered alone this session or attached to other pending legislation before lawmakers leave later this fall.