Diamond is not ready for prime time


How many lives per barrel?

Pipelines have different meanings. Plains All American sees pipelines as assets, part of their infrastructure connecting frackers and crackers with massive farm tanks. Cracking is a process used in refineries to make fuels from crude oil.

On a balance sheet, rivers, water protectors, environmental regulations, and endangered wildlife are liabilities. Assets are the important stuff, the topic of quarterly investment calls with Goldman Sachs and other investment banks.

Take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line in the middle. On the left, draw pictures of pipelines and bags of money, the PAA assets, and on the right, pictures of your kids and pets, the PAA liabilities.


People near the Diamond pipeline talk about drilling and bulldozers making a mess with Texas crews doing a small piece of the project, leaving the next guy to clean up. Stephen Lee, Diamond project manager, is a busy guy. Lee told the crew making the final welds, “I and the Diamond stakeholders greatly appreciate the commitment and dedication it took to complete such a unique and challenging installation, Phenomenal job guys!”

Lee is wrong. The Diamond pipeline is not complete. Each pipeline is a unique, giant machine, guaranteed to leak. Pigs are used to inspect underground pipelines but they are programmed by the people testing the pipeline. Lee and his army want to call it quits and build the next PAA pipeline. Commissioning is a formal engineering process used to test and certify pipeline integrity, to avoid leaks and during the first week of operation. Commissioning involves hydro-testing, cleaning, and stress testing to avoid leaks under operating conditions. The PAA Control Center operators play a key role checking each valve, pump, and component. Budget, time, skilled operators, and other resources must be allocated to the Diamond commissioning process before shipping the first barrel of crude.

Someone needs to sign the commissioning documents. Lee is not qualified, he is not a Board Certified Professional Engineer with the State of Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma or Tennessee.

Construction of the Diamond pipeline is nearing completion. However, there are many open issues before the Valero Memphis refinery gets the first barrel of crude.


Diamond’s permits were for construction under rivers. PAA needs a separate permit to operate the Diamond Pipeline. Running a giant machine is different from welding the parts. To drive an oil tanker truck, you need training and certification to get a state license. This is to avoid spills and fires at the invisible Van Buren Diamond unloading station. You don’t need to know how to build a truck.

Diamond is a private line for Valero

The first step in planning a common carrier pipeline is an Open Season, like the new Basin line. “PAA is conducting an OS for committed crude oil pipeline capacity from the Permian Basin to Cushing, OK. Origin points will be Midland, TX and Colorado City, TX. Depending on the results committed volumes will move on a combination of new and existing pipelines. The OS provides an opportunity for potential shippers to offer long-term volume commitments in exchange for firm transportation agreements. The OS begins on April 18, 2017, and ends on May 30, 2017.” Basin will increase the crude at Cushing. Will it flow on Diamond?


It is never too late to stop chemical warfare. From the day Diamond was born, public health hazards have increased every day. Sunlight and wind are all we need. Buying low-cost oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries while we ditch internal combustion engines is a better alternative.

Sadly, oil is an addiction. Trump’s plan is to keep digging until we run out of water and die. John Lennon’s message Give Peace a Chance went unheard, and we continue selling weapons as works of art. The $100 billion Saudi agreement was falsely said to be “tremendous” with billions of dollars in U.S. jobs. Joining the countries determined to keep life on Earth and enjoy the wonders of Nature is not that hard. Imagine!

Dr. Luis Contreras