How are pipelines constructed?
Planning for any type of pipeline project often begins years in advance of actual construction. Initial steps in the planning process include determining the market need, pipeline design, specification of pipe and components, route selection, environmental assessments, public consultation, land acquisition and permitting.

The design and construction of a pipeline for the most part occurs in three stages. During the pre-construction phase, highly trained engineers work to design a system that meets the needs of producers and shippers in moving their product to the marketplace. At the same time, pipeline employees who specialize in planning work minimize the impact of construction projects on the environment, in addition to consulting with communities and landowners along the route about the project. Every pipeline project planning team must meet federal and state requirements, obtain necessary permits and respond to local concerns. Land or Right-of-way agents, hired by the pipeline operator, also work with potential landowners to secure easement rights to place the pipeline along the selected route.

Typically, the actual construction phase of a project occurs in the shortest amount of time. But the construction phase can only begin after route selection, easement negotiations, environmental permitting, and many other pre-construction actions have been accomplished. Before the line pipe can be buried, the pipeline right-of-way must be cleared and prepared for construction. Once ready, the pipeline is carefully placed in the pre-dug trench or bored under waterways or roads. If trenching is involved, the trench is filled and post-construction restoration begins.

The post-construction phase of any project addresses several aspects including restoring the surface of the land affected by the trenching. Work then begins to reconstruct the surface of the land. Before the pipeline is placed into service, the pipe and components are again tested in the field with a water pressure, weld x-rays and a variety of other inspection tests. Each stage of this process is overseen by qualified inspectors to ensure compliance with the engineering plan, codes, permit conditions, landowner and easement agreements, and regulatory requirements.

While this overview gives you a general idea about pipeline construction, there are many important steps along the way. To get a better understanding of the construction process, we invite you to take a closer look at the process and the many people that make it all happen.

More information on the liquid petroleum pipeline industry is continually being developed and added to Pipeline 101. Please visit us often.



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