Additional research on sustainability aspects of pipelines

In its ‘Structural vision on pipelines’ the Dutch government sets out its ideas on policy-making concerning pipelines and the preferred role of government in this area. One of the aspects involved is the sustainability of pipeline transport.

This study examines the overall costs and benefits of pipelines, by calculating their economic and social costs and benefits. The study comprises two parts: an assessment of four pipeline projects that either just went ahead or just failed to do so; and a limited social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) of the case of LPG transport from Vlissingen (Flushing) to Kijfhoek.

The direct costs of constructing an LPG pipeline are so much higher than the alternative costs of rail transport that they are unlikely to be shouldered by a private party. In many cases this does not mean the government should support funding, however. In the case of LPG there are clear benefits to be expected for society as a whole, in the form of reduced ‘risk contours’ along transport routes. In the majority of cases this seems unlikely to be the case, though. The situation may possibly differ for future transport of hydrogen, but there are not many other commodities for which this is likely.