What is the Purpose of Pipelines in Your Community?

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Do you know if pipelines are in your community?  There is an excellent chance the answer is yes.  The U.S. pipeline infrastructure stretches more than 2.2 million miles across the country.  In comparison, the national highway system is comprised of only 160,000 miles of roadway, or thirteen times less than the total pipeline mileage.  Both of these systems are critical in terms of the country’s national defense and economic viability, in that they provide the means for the transportation of people, products and services.

Pipelines are built in different sizes depending on the purpose of the pipeline and the commodity being transported.  There are three types of pipelines.

  1. Gathering pipelines collect the oil and natural gas from production fields.  They are typically smaller in diameter and function at a lower operating pressure.
  2. Transmission pipelines carry energy resources from production centers to areas of consumption, manufacturing or electric generation facilities, or to even larger pipelines that transport the energy resources for long distances.  Transmission pipelines also deliver crude oil to refineries and then transport the resulting energy products, like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, to terminals for transportation by truck.  These larger pipelines operate at higher pressures than their smaller-diameter counterparts and usually travel long distances within a state or even across state boundaries.
  3. Natural gas transmission pipelines also deliver gas to the third type of pipeline, a local distribution system.  A local distribution company, or LDC, receives gas at a point commonly referred to as a city gate.  It is at this location that the gas is transferred from a large, high-pressure line to a smaller, lower-pressure pipeline.  LDC pipelines run down city streets and are connected to homes and businesses via service lines.  These pipelines actually deliver natural gas to commercial and residential neighborhoods and serve as the conveyance for a fuel that heats our homes, cooks our meals and provides us with a source of hot water.

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