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Building the Pipeline

  • The pipeline construction process is a highly-coordinated, well-planned operation executed by a team of technical experts.
  • Survey teams travel the pipeline route to plan for construction and perform a comprehensive environmental survey to make sure sensitive habitats are protected.

  • Prior to construction, companies must obtain numerous permits and approvals from local, state, and federal government agencies. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are two of the federal agencies that develop and enforce regulations for interstate pipelines.
  • Builders work with landowners, communities, and other stakeholders to keep them informed during each step of the planning and construction process.

  • Once all regulatory approvals are secured, the pipes are shaped, welded, and coated.
  • The pipeline is positioned into place, and valves and fittings are installed.

Testing the Pipeline for Safety

  • In the United States, pipelines have a 99.999% safety record.
  • One reason pipelines are so safe is because of the series of tests they undergo before and during operation, including pressure testing for a minimum of eight hours.
  • Results are analyzed and shared with government agencies prior to operations beginning.

Maintaining the environment

  • Most pipelines are buried underground to minimize any surface impacts. After the pipe is laid, the topsoil is replaced and the land is reclaimed.
  • In many areas, you wouldn’t even know a pipeline was operating there because biologists and other ecological experts remediate and restore the land with indigenous vegetation and wildlife.

Open for Business

  • Crude oil and natural gas are collected by pipelines from inland production areas.
  • Most pipelines operate at a speed of six miles per hour.
  • 16.2 billion barrels of oil and petroleum products move through these pipelines each year.

Pipelines Hit the Pump Station

  • Petroleum products are often shipped over hundreds or even thousands of miles.
  • For example, the Rockies Express Pipeline runs for more than 1,600 miles between Colorado and eastern Ohio.
  • Pumping stations are positioned throughout the length of each pipeline to adjust the pressure, monitor flow rates, and keep the product pumping.

Time for a Safety Check

  • Pipeline operators inspect their pipelines regularly to check for signs the pipe needs maintenance.
  • These regular inspections allow pipeline operators to catch and fix issues long before they become a problem.
  • Regular inspections are a big reason why pipelines are the safest way to transport oil and natural gas.

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What happens when a pipeline gets to a city?

  • The natural gas we use to heat our homes travels through a network of pipelines in cities and towns across the country.
  • In addition to homes and businesses, manufacturers also use natural gas as a feedstock, and natural gas is the largest source of electric power generation in the United States.
  • Approximately 34% of all natural gas in the United States is used for power generation, while 29% is used for industry and 28% is for residential use. The remainder is used for a variety of purposes, from transportation to onsite fuel.
  • Pipelines exist almost everywhere in the U.S., and chances are you drive or walk over one every day.
  • Typically, pipelines run three to six feet under building structures but can go deeper if needed.

Oil and Natural Gas make their way to the refinery

  • Once delivered to refineries and chemical manufacturing plants, crude oil and natural gas undergo distillation and other processes to create gasoline, diesel, asphalt, ethylene, ammonia, and many other useful products.
  • These products are then sent to markets where they will be used as transportation fuels, or converted into other products like fertilizers, plastics, and even pharmaceuticals.

American Oil and Gas are sent all over the world

  • The United States is the world’s largest combined producer of oil and natural gas.
  • Most of these fuels are consumed domestically, but growing production means we now have a surplus to sell oil and natural gas to our trading partners around the world.
  • At one point in 2018, the United States was actually a net oil and petroleum exporter, meaning it was exporting more oil and petroleum products than it was importing.
  • The United States is currently on track to become the world’s third largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), behind only Qatar and Australia.
  • America’s newfound status as a global energy superpower is made possible by pipelines, which deliver the fuels we need for a strong and growing economy.

Pipelines Safely Transport Oil

Oil and natural gas are the lifeblood of the Texas economy, and the 466,623 miles of pipelines in the state are the critical veins and arteries that keep the economy pumping. Across the United States, there are more than 2.4 million miles of pipelines that communities from coast to coast depend on every day.

 

But what goes into building and operating a pipeline? What happens when the products get to market?

 

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