Midstream Oil and Gas, Production Storage & Measurement

Features & Benefits of Pipeline Transportation – Why Pipelines Are Needed

October 22, 2019 Welcome

benefits of pipeline transportation

Oil pipelines are steel or polyethylene tubes through which large quantities of crude and refined petroleum derivatives can be channeled.

Why do we need pipelines rather than alternative forms of transporting oil and gas derivatives? This article will highlight the features of pipeline transport and consider the benefits derived from their use.

What Are Pipelines Used For?

The applications of pipelines span domestic, commercial and industrial purposes. Pipelines can be used to carry natural gas to homes (domestic), jet fuel to airports (commercial), and crude oil to refineries (industrial).

Importance of Pipeline Transport

The efficient transport of oil from production wells to oil refineries would be impossible without the use of an elaborate network of pipelines. This important midstream oil and gas component is also critical to the transfer of finished petroleum products to end-users or dependent industries.

The use of expansive networks of pipelines ensures that domestic and industrial users have access to an uninterrupted flow of vital, energy generating gases and liquids.

Domestic Uses

Domestic utility providers use pipelines to convey water and domestic use gases to residential areas where they are utilized as cooking gas, to provide indoor heating as well as safe drinking water.

Commercial/Industrial Uses

Refined petroleum fuels can be transported across long distances directly to the industrial facilities that require them.

Pipeline Benefits

Oil and gas products have significantly improved the way we live by powering numerous energy-saving devices and innovations. Although the benefits of oil & natural gas pipelines are numerous, the key advantages of transporting utility gases/liquids using this means are listed below.

Large Capacity Transportation

Pipelines can transport enormous amounts of oil and natural gas. They are more efficient at transferring these vast quantities of oil and natural gas than conventional shipments by rail, truck, or ships.

Safer and Continuous Transportation

Due to the volatile and highly flammable nature of oil and natural gas, transportation has to be carried out as safely as possible. In this regard, pipelines will greatly minimize the risk of explosion during transit. Most pipeline networks are subterranean which limits their exposure to natural elements. Also, above-surface pipelines are specifically designed to withstand adverse environmental temperature and weather changes without developing dangerous leaks.

Tiny Surface Footprint, Avoidance of Densely Populated Areas

Another beneficial feature of pipeline transport is the negligible above ground surface area they occupy. Typically, most pipeline systems are buried underneath the earth’s surface. The exceptions to this are places where natural rock formations prevent their passage, or it is uneconomical to lay sub-surface systems.

Further, oil transport pipelines follow routes that avoid human-populated areas when possible. The significance of this mostly underground pipeline network is the decrease in the potentially disastrous hazards associated with man-made activities near transport sites.

Shorter Construction Time Frame

The installation of an oil and gas carrier pipeline system can be done in a fraction of the time required to construct a dedicated rail transportation system of similar length. The need to factor in difficult geographical terrain and adverse climatic considerations mean more planning, manpower and a longer duration for a railway construction project which usually spans years. Pipeline construction is quicker as large capacity pipes can simply be constructed to run over natural geographical barriers.

Lower Energy Use, Reduced Transportation Costs

Among the benefits of pipeline transportation of oil and natural gas is the efficiency of the process. Pipeline systems utilize comparably lower amounts of energy to transport significantly larger volumes of oil than can be conveyed by truck, rail, or ship. Pipelines also simplify the oil and gas metering process with the help of modular process skid manufacturers for pipeline applications.

Environmentally Friendly

Conveying oil using pipelines is an eco-friendly option than transportation by conventional rails and oil ships. Oil transport lines have a less damaging environmental effect that other forms of conveyance as they are sealed and mostly subterranean. This reduces its carbon footprint significantly.

why pipelines are needed

Pipeline Features

The main types of oil and natural gas pipelines can be divided into two categories based on the type of fluid they convey.

  • Liquid petroleum pipelines
  • Natural gas pipelines

Liquid Petroleum Pipelines

These are a network of pipelines that are further subdivided into

  • Crude oil lines
  • Carbon dioxide lines
  • Refined product lines
  • Highly volatile liquid lines

Natural Gas Lines

These are a network of natural gas pipelines.

IFS Helps to Streamline Pipeline Needs

Integrated Flow Solutions is an engineering and manufacturing firm dedicated to the production of excellent quality oil and gas process systems. We aim to provide our customers with an unrivaled experience by providing the most effective solutions guaranteed to improve process efficiency and productivity.

Contact the IFS team online today to learn more about the pipeline engineering solutions we offer.