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U.S. Department
of Transportation

Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications

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Fact Sheet: Distribution Pipelines


Local distribution companies (LDCs) own and operate natural gas distribution pipelines. They receive natural gas from transmission pipelines and distribute it to commercial and residential end-users. Distribution pipelines are generally smaller in diameter than gas transmission pipelines and operate at reduced pressures. Many gas distribution pipelines are made of plastic pipe rather than steel. Distribution systems consist of mains that are normally installed underground, along or under streets and roadways and smaller service lines.

The point at which the local distribution system connects to the natural gas transmission pipeline is known as the city gate. At the city gate the gas pressure is lowered and a sour-smelling odorant is added to the gas to help users detect even small quantities of leaking gas.

Regulation of Distribution Pipelines

Natural gas distribution pipeline systems are regulated by PHMSA and its state partners under 49 CFR Part 192.

Distribution Pipelines: Where can I learn more?

Date of Revision: 02262018