Pipeline system
Source: pixabay

How Many Oil Pipelines Are in the U.S.? More Than Any Other Country

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Nov. 16 2021, Published 2:38 p.m. ET

The U.S. is served by an energy pipeline network that covers millions of miles. However, climate change concerns have made new pipeline developments challenging in recent years with several major projects abandoned or delayed. How many oil pipelines are in the U.S.? What’s the largest pipeline in the country?

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Amid the efforts to slow rising global temperatures, the world is making the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy from sources like solar and wind. However, a complete shift to renewable energy sources will take years and the U.S. will continue to rely on oil to power its economy.

U.S. energy pipelines transport crude oil from the fields where drilling takes place to the refineries for processing and then deliver the products to the terminals. Trucks can take the products from the terminals and deliver them to retail outlets like gas stations for drivers to fuel their cars.

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Crude oil refinery
Source: Pixabay

How many oil pipelines are in the U.S.?

The U.S. is home to most of the world’s oil pipelines. There are more than 200 oil pipelines running across the U.S., which is more than the number of pipelines in Russia, China, and Canada combined. Around the world, the number of operational pipelines is estimated at about 650. The number is expected to grow in the coming years since dozens of new projects are under construction or have been proposed.

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Many existing pipeline systems are being upgraded and new ones are being built across the U.S. to meet the growing demand for oil products. However, some major pipeline projects have suffered setbacks in recent years. Some projects have failed to obtain necessary regulatory approvals, while others have faced opposition from groups worried about the negative environmental impact.

Although pipeline systems offer a cheaper and faster way to transport oil products than using trucks, they have their fair share of drawbacks. For example, their construction can have a negative impact on wildlife parks. Pipeline leaks and spills can pollute water sources and cause fires. Tighter regulations on fossil fuels have increased the burden of constructing new major oil pipelines.

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What’s the largest pipeline in the U.S.?

Colonial Pipeline is the largest pipeline for refined petroleum products. It connects refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast to the markets in the South and East coasts where more than 50 million people rely on its supplies. The pipeline delivers some 2.5 million barrels per day of oil. In 2021, the Colonial Pipeline suffered a major cyberattack that forced it to shut down, which led to fuel shortages in some parts of the country.

While Colonial is the largest conveyer of refined oil products in the country, Enbridge operates the longest crude oil pipeline system in the U.S. The system, traversing about 8,630 miles across the country, delivers more than 3 million barrels of crude oil every day. It accounts for 40 percent of the U.S. crude oil imports.

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colonial pipeline cyber attack
Source: Getty

Where are the oil pipelines in the U.S.?

Oil pipelines traverse the U.S. and are a vital link in fuel delivery to keep the economy running. They connect refineries to oil production areas or import hubs and then carry the refined products to the market terminals. The pipeline systems in the U.S. run underground from coast to coast. The distribution network can be found almost everywhere in the country. A single pipeline can transport a variety of fuel products.

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