Fascinating Facts About The Pipeline Industry

Caterpillar Global Pipeline provides global focus and strategic direction for Caterpillar in the pipeline construction industry. As one of CAT’s premier dealers in Colorado, New Mexico, and far west Texas, we at Wagner Equipment Co. have decided to dedicate this blog to the providing of some interesting facts regarding the pipeline industry. Some might surprise you, while others you might be more familiar with. Regardless, we hope you find this blog post informative and useful on some level. 

In that spirit, we’ll kick things off by discussing a few of the many ways Caterpillar provides commercial value to our pipeline contractors near and far. If you are interested in any of what we’ve previewed above, by all means read on!

PLM & Caterpillar

Caterpillar Global Pipeline has worked very closely with Caterpillar dealership to form PipeLine Machinery International (PLM). Having done so, we are able to better connect our dealer network with Caterpillar to solve the unique problems pipeline contractors must contend with. Among the many ways we work to support the industry, PLM provides

  • Consistency between selling and servicing dealers
  • Specialty pipeline products that are available for short-term rentals globally
  • Business processes to address the cyclical needs of the pipeline industry

Additionally, Caterpillar Vice President Steve Gosselin has recently stated, “With this approach, Caterpillar is enhancing its distribution network and global support, using our best in class global dealer network to provide a higher level of service to the customers in this unique market.” 

Indeed, it is a unique market, with its fair share of ad-hoc challenges that require custom solutions to surmount. Below, we take the opportunity to highlight some little-known facts about the pipeline industry. 

Fascinating Pipeline Facts

  • Transmission pipelines are underground pipelines that stretch vast distances, carrying oil and gas to keep modern infrastructure running smoothly. 
  • Because transmission pipelines are underground, they are largely unseen. But, in truth, they operate over the stretch of 50,000 miles in Canada alone, which is almost three times the length of Canada’s highway system. 
  • 72 percent of Canadian energy needs are fulfilled by oil and gas. 
  • According to About Pipelines, Canadian “pipelines transported 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2015. CEPA members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s natural gas and onshore crude oil production from producing regions to markets throughout North America. The value of these exports in 2014 was $81 billion.”
  • Closer to home, the United States has more than 1,382,569 miles of pipeline, in which flows trillions of gallons of oil and gas to various parts of the country. It has also been estimated that, if all of the pipelines were connected continuously, it would reach from the earth to the moon and back nearly three times! That’s a lot of pipe. 
  • The United States boasts the most pipeline of all nations on the planet. Russia is number two, followed by the aforementioned Canadian pipelines.
  • Different pipes transport different kinds of material. For instance, oil is transported in one kind of pipeline, where it is then sent to refineries, whereas natural gas is delivered to refineries using a different system of pipelines. Once oil and natural gas have been converted into various products, they’ll be sent out using a third type of pipeline. 
  • The National Transportation and Safety Board reports that pipeline transportation of materials is among the safest ever developed. The Fraser Institute reports that similar materials being transported by railroad are roughly 4.5 times as likely to experience an accident. 
  • Depending on what material is being transported, pipelines vary in size, coming in at anywhere between two inches to four feet in diameter. To determine the appropriate size of pipe, one must take into account factors that include pressure, temperature, and how much material will be moved.
  • Once pipelines are built and operational, there is a complicated, ongoing monitoring process that tracks each pipeline across the United States. According to the Pipeline Association for Public Awareness, professionals “utilize maintenance procedures consistent with the type, location and product being transported and communicate with those living and working near their lines.” 
  • These procedures mentioned above usually include: patrolling the pipeline (on foot or airborne) to inspect and troubleshoot problems, installing cathodic protection to protect from corrosion, preparing and practicing emergency response protocols, among many other procedures. 
  • Among the many myths about pipeline, one of the most prominent is that pipelines can be abandoned. This couldn’t be further from the truth, in actual fact. When a pipeline is laid by a company, they have a lifetime commitment to the ongoing upkeep of that pipeline. Even if an operator wishes to retire a specific pipeline, they are still responsible for maintaining environmental and safety standards. 
  • Another myth we’d like to shed some light on is that pipeline spills are fairly common. We addressed how much safer of a transportation method it is when compared with railroads, but even from a more general standpoint, pipe spills are remarkably rare. Taking Canada as an example, 99.9999 percent of all crude oil products transported by pipeline were safely transported to their destination from 2011 to 2015. That’s over three million barrels of crude oil each day!
  • The final myth we’d like to debunk in today’s blog has to do with the lifespan of pipelines. While it might be natural to think that pipelines have a service life (since pretty much everything does), that’s not the case with pipelines. When they are properly maintained and serviced, they can be used for as long as the operator needs them to! Because pipelines in Canada and the United States are almost always properly maintained, this isn’t something worth worrying about. 


Choose Wagner Equipment

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s pipeline blog! For the pipeline contractors out there reading this, we hope you choose CAT as your solution provider for your problems big and small. For everyone else out there looking for a Colorado CAT equipment dealer worth their salt, Wagner Equipment has dealer locations in Colorado, New Mexico, and far west Texas! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. We’d love to hear from you!