What is a Pipeline Transport?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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Pipeline transport primarily involves the use of pipes to deliver gases, liquids, or sealed pneumatic capsules to other destinations. Materials can be transported for consumer, manufacturer, or agricultural use. Pipelines are also often used to transport sewage, coal, and ore. There are even some facilities that use beer pipelines.

The first pipeline transport was used for delivering petroleum in 1863. It was initiated per the suggestion of Dimitri Mendeleev, a Russian inventor and chemist. Mendeleev is also credited with inventing the earliest periodic table of elements.

There are three main types of pipelines: those used for transportation, those used for gathering, and those used for distribution. Transportation pipelines are the longest variety; they are used to move materials across areas as large as continents, but also countries and cities. A gathering pipeline tends to be smaller, but more complex; it is used to transport energy sources such as natural gas or crude oil from wells to the facilities where they will be refined. Distribution pipelines are used for consumer goods, such as heating oil and gas for business and residential use.


Pipeline transport can carry a wide array of liquids for agricultural, manufacturing, and consumer use. They can transport fuel, such as kerosene, gasoline, and jet or diesel fuel. Pipelines can also transport energy sources including propane, oil for home heating, and natural gas. Manufacturers may use pipelines for transporting ethane, propylene, crude oil, or carbon dioxide. The agricultural industry also uses pipeline transport to move a fertilizer known as anhydrous ammonia.

The materials used to make a pipeline transport system depend upon the purpose of the line. If the pipes are for transporting oil, they are usually constructed of plastic or steel. Natural gas pipelines are usually made out of carbon steel. Items for consumption, such as beer, usually travel through copper pipelines.

Most pipelines are buried a few feet or meters under the ground. Pump stations move the liquid through pipelines. Pipe inspection is usually performed by special gauges, while scraping cleaners know as pigs or go-devils clean any residue that has built up in the pipes. Cleaners are launched at special stations and are deposited at a receiving station once they have finished cleaning the pipeline. There are also devices that can collect data as they move through the pipeline, thus providing information that is essential to proper pipe maintenance.


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