Network Vulnerability Assessment of the U.S. Crude Pipeline Infrastructure
Larranaga, Michael D.
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The potential for cascade failure of the U.S. crude oil pipeline infrastructure is analyzed using Model Based Risk Assessment software. The pipeline system that distributes crude oil to refineries across the United States has gained much media attention with President Obamas denial of a permit to complete a key portion the Keystone-XL pipeline that will carry oil from Alberta, Canada to the Cushing Oil Trading Hub (COTH) in Cushing, OK. The analysis identified the COTH as the primary critical hub. The COTH is one of the worlds major oil terminals. A disruption of the COTH, Midwest/West Coast oil distribution networks, or critical hubs would have far-reaching negative consequences affecting global trade. The analysis also identified regional differences in network resiliency and susceptibility to cascade failure. Protecting all 55,000 miles of the U.S. crude oil pipeline infrastructure from catastrophic failure is an unachievable goal, but protection of the network from cascade failure and a Black Swan event can be achieved by protecting network hubs. The results of this analysis should be used as a starting point to increase network resiliency and prioritize the use of resources to secure the crude oil pipeline network against cascade failure.
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