About Pipelines

Why Pipelines?

Pipelines move nearly two-thirds of the oil and petroleum products transported annually. Pipelines are, by far, America's most important petroleum supply line, including crude oil, refined fuel and raw materials.

Practical and Safe

Because of the volume that must be transported, pipelines are the only feasible method for moving the enormous quantities of petroleum America requires to keep going each day.

  • Replacing even a modest-sized pipeline, which might transport 150,000 barrels per day, would require 750 tanker truck loads per day, a load delivered every two minutes around the clock.
  • Replacing the same pipeline with railroad cars would require a 225-car train to arrive and be unloaded every day.

In addition to their efficiency, pipelines also have important environmental and safety benefits. Compared to other inland transport modes, pipelines do not crowd our highways and rivers and they produce negligible air pollution. Pipelines also have a lower spill rate per barrel of oil transported than competing modes of transportation, namely trucks and barges. Tell me more about pipeline safety.

Cost Efficiency

Pipeline jobs require high-skilled workers and good wages. Petroleum pipelines depend on a relatively small national workforce of more than 11,000 skilled men and women, yet that workforce transports over 629.9 billion ton-miles of freight each year.  

A recent proposed pipeline project would create over 118,000 jobs and generate more than $585 million in state and local taxes for the states along the pipeline route 

Total Freight Transported

Interstate pipelines deliver over 11.3 billion barrels of petroleum each year. (There are 42 gallons in a barrel.) About 52% of the petroleum transported by pipelines is crude oil and 47% is in the form of refined petroleum products. The cost to transport a barrel of petroleum products from Houston to the New York harbor is about $1, or about 2 1/2 ¢ per gallon at your local gasoline station. The price to transport petroleum products through pipelines does not change, regardless of fluctuations in the price of a gallon of gas. Tell me more about the economic regulation of pipelines. 

Energy to You

Liquid pipelines bring crude oil to the nation's refineries and important petroleum products to our communities, including all grades of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, kerosene, propane, and biofuels. Pipelines also transport carbon dioxide to oil and natural gas fields, where it can be used efficiently to enhance production. In addition to transportation, many other industries get raw materials by pipeline, including food, drugs and pharmaceuticals, plastics, chemicals, and road construction. Almost all gasoline is transported by pipeline. Trucks you see at the local gas station usually carry gasoline only the last few miles, after picking it up from a distribution terminal. Public transportation often depends upon liquid pipelines as well - many commuter railroads and city buses depend on the fuels we carry.

From the food and medicine we require to the cars we drive to the plastics that improve our lives - pipelines make it possible. Pipelines are a vital part of our country's infrastructure and have been quietly serving the nation for decades. 

America's Supply Line Video

For an overview of the nation's petroleum pipelines (9:24 minutes), view:

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