TYPES OF OIL & GAS PIPELINES

types of pipelines fsj contractor

The Canadian Oil and Gas Industry utilizes various types of pipelines as one means to facilitate the safe and efficient transfer of commodities throughout the country.

Due to the extreme weather, and challenging terrain that can be found in Canada, the industry is much more complex than merely putting pipe in the ground. Through extensive engineering evaluation and regulatory review, the Canadian Energy Industry takes pride in being a leader in pipeline infrastructure construction.

Pipeline owners through proper installation, preventative/scheduled maintenance, and continual monitoring of a pipeline system’s integrity are able to mitigate hazards to the environment & public while efficiently delivering affordable energy to citizens.

Pipeline systems utilize a wide range of construction materials, to ensure that designs are in line with their unique technical requirements encountered when dealing with different process service requirements in varied geographical locations.

The pipeline infrastructure system within Canada can be generalized into 5 distinct categories that help distinguish where in the production stream these types of pipelines exist.

These categories include:

  1. Flow Lines
  2. Gathering Pipelines
  3. Feeder Pipelines
  4. Transmission Pipelines
  5. Distribution Pipelines

Flow Lines

Flow lines are the first phase in the transmission process of pipelines in the industry. They are used to transport raw production from well-pads and satellite facilities to larger mainline gathering pipelines.

Line sizes:

Typically, flow lines range from 4”-12” in diameter and are usually less than 5 KM in length.

Commodity:

As flowlines transport the raw production from the wellheads, these types of pipelines will carry:

  • Raw Natural Gas
  • Crude oil
  • Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)

Gathering pipelines

Gathering pipelines are used to consolidate the production from various flow lines and deliver the products to a processing facility or large storage tanks.

Gathering lines also transport raw production like flow lines, however the volume of flow will be significantly greater than a single flow line.

Line sizes:

  • Typically, gathering lines range from 4”-12” in diameter, with some up to 20” and are generally 5 to 20 KM long.

Commodity:

As flowlines transport the raw production from the flow lines, gathering pipelines will carry:

  • Raw Natural Gas
  • Crude oil
  • Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)

Feeder Pipelines

Feeder pipelines are located downstream of processing facilities after the raw production from the gathering lines has undergone processing such as;

  • separation of gas and liquids
  • processing treatment – dehydration & sweetening

This is done to ensure the commodity within these types of pipelines meets the specification requirements of transmission pipelines, the next phase in the transportation network.

Line sizes:

  • Typically, feeder lines range from 6”-20” in diameter and are generally 5 to 20 KM long.

Commodity:

Feeder lines are required to transport a refined and specific product as they are connected to transmission pipelines. Common commodities include:

  • Natural Gas
  • Produced Oil, after removal of entrapped gases, other liquids and condensed solids
  • Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)

Transmission Pipelines

Transmission pipelines are the largest in diameter throughout the transportation system. They carry products that have been slightly refined to meet required specifications.

Line sizes:

These types of pipelines can range from 10”-48” in diameter and stretch hundreds of kilometers across provincial, country and continental borders (Europe/Asia and North/Central/South America).

Commodity:

Transmission pipelines will deliver the products from the Feeder pipelines to a large central processing facility.

Common commodities include:

  • Natural Gas
  • Produced Oil, after removal of entrapped gases, other liquids and condensed solids
  • NGL’s such as stabilized condensate

Distribution Lines

Distribution lines are the last phase in the pipeline transportation network. Once production from the gathering pipelines has been completely refined into consumable products such as natural gas for heating our homes or gasoline for vehicles, distribution lines are used to bring these products to businesses and home owners.

Line sizes:

These types of pipelines cover a wide range of sizes, from ½” – 24” and can be hundreds of kilometers long.

Commodity:

These types of pipelines carry completely refined products such as [1]:

  • Natural gas for heating homes
  • Gasoline for vehicles
  • Jet fuel
  • Diesel

As a critical part of our oil and natural gas infrastructure, there are more than 840,000 KM of federally and provincially regulated pipelines across Canada [4]. Pipelines are a safe, reliable and environmentally conscious way of transporting oil and natural gas.

In Canada, various types of pipelines significantly contribute to the strength of our economy and enhance the quality of our daily lives.

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