From the wellhead to the consumer, petroleum pipeline systems provide us with energy fuels and products we use every day. There are essentially three major types of pipelines along the petroleum transportation route: gathering systems, crude oil pipeline systems, and refined products pipeline systems. Gathering pipeline systems gather crude oil from production wells. Crude oil pipeline systems transport crude oil from the gathering systems to refineries. Crude oil systems can be tens to hundreds of miles in length and cross state and continental borders. Refined products pipeline systems transport refined products such as gasoline, kerosene and many industrial feedstock petrochemicals from refineries to the end user or to storage and distribution terminals. Refined products pipelines can extend tens to thousands of miles and cross state and continental borders.
The pipe used in oil pipeline systems can range in size from 2 inches to 42 inches in diameter. Oil pipeline systems are owned and operated by many different companies. The location, construction and operation of these systems are generally regulated by federal and state regulations.