What is pipeline transport

Pipeline transportation is a mode of transportation of liquid and gaseous materials over long distances using pipelines as a means of transportation, a mode of transportation of oil, coal and chemical products exclusively from production to market, a special component of trunk transportation in the unified transport network. Sometimes, pneumatic tubes can do similar work, transporting solid compartments with compressed gas, while the cargo is contained inside. Transporting petroleum products by pipeline is more expensive than water transport, but still cheaper than rail transport. Most pipelines are used by their owners to transport their own products. Pipeline transportation is the use of underground pipelines to deliver crude oil, natural gas, refined oil, mineral slurry, coal slurry all media to their destinations. Pipeline transportation is the fifth largest transportation industry after railroad, road, water and air transportation, which plays a very important role in the national economy and social development.

pipeline transportation

Pipeline transportation is not only large, continuous, rapid, economic, safe, reliable, smooth, as well as less investment, occupying less land, low cost, and can achieve automatic control. In addition to being widely used for the long-distance transportation of oil and natural gas, it can also transport ores, coal, building materials, chemicals and food. Pipeline transportation can eliminate the bad transit section of water or land transportation, shorten the transportation cycle, reduce transportation costs and improve transportation efficiency. The current development trend of pipeline transportation is: the caliber of pipeline is increasing, and the transportation capacity is increasing significantly; the distance of pipeline is increasing rapidly; the transportation of materials from oil, natural gas, chemicals and other fluids is gradually expanded to coal, ores and other non-fluids. China has built a number of crude oil pipeline transportation lines from Daqing to Qinhuangdao, Shengli Oilfield to Nanjing, etc.
As far as liquids and gases are concerned, all chemically stable substances can be transported by pipeline. Therefore, waste water, slurry, water, and even beer can be transported by pipeline. In addition, pipelines are very important for transporting oil and gas – most of the companies concerned regularly inspect their pipelines and clean them with pipeline testers.

Features of pipeline transportation

1. Large transport volume pipeline transportation can eliminate the bad transit section of water or land transport, shorten the transport cycle, reduce transport costs and improve transport efficiency. The current development trend of pipeline transportation is: the caliber of the pipeline is increasing, the transport capacity has increased significantly; the distance of the pipeline is rapidly increasing; the transport of materials from oil, natural gas, chemical products and other fluids gradually expanded to coal, ores and other non-fluids.

2. The construction project of pipeline transportation is relatively single.

3. Pipeline transportation has a high degree of mechanization.
4Favorable to environmental protection.
5Limitations of pipeline transportation is not as flexible as other modes of transportation (such as automobile transportation), and in addition to the single cargo to be transported, it is not allowed to expand pipelines at will. To achieve “door-to-door” transport services, pipeline transport often has to cooperate with railroad transport, automobile transport and waterway transport in order to complete the whole transport process for general users. In addition, the cost of transportation increases significantly when the volume of transportation is significantly insufficient.

Forms of pipeline transportation

Advantages and disadvantages of pipeline transportation

Advantages of pipeline transportation

Among the five major modes of transportation, pipeline transportation has unique advantages. Compared with railroads, highways and airlines, the investment in construction is much less. Compared with railroad transportation, the experts of the Transport Association have made a calculation: the construction of a 7,000-kilometer-long pipeline along the main flow of refined oil products will generate comprehensive social and economic benefits, only reducing transportation costs, saving power consumption and reducing losses in transportation, which can save about 1 billion yuan a year; and for oil transportation with flammable characteristics For oil transportation with flammable characteristics, pipeline transportation has the characteristics of safety and confinement.
In oil and gas transportation, pipeline transportation has its unique advantages, first of all, lies in its smooth, uninterrupted transport, for modern mass production, oil fields non-stop production, pipelines can do non-stop transport, refining and chemical industry can be non-stop production of finished products to meet the needs of the national economy; secondly, the realization of safe transport, for oil and gas, cars, trains transport are very dangerous, foreign called “active bombs”, and pipelines in the underground closed transport, has a very high security; third is the preservation of quality, pipeline transport in a closed state, the oil does not volatilize, the quality is not affected; fourth is the economy, pipeline transport loss less, low freight, occupy less land, low pollution.
Finished oil as a highly dangerous fluid that is flammable and explosive, the best transportation method should be pipeline transportation. Compared with other transportation methods, pipeline transportation of refined oil products has a large transport volume, high labor productivity; short construction period, less investment, less land area; less transport losses, no “three wastes” emissions, conducive to environmental and ecological protection; all-weather continuous transport, high security, fewer accidents; and transportation automation, low cost and energy consumption and other obvious advantages.
The main advantages can be summarized as follows.
(1) Large transportation capacity.
An oil pipeline can continuously complete the transportation task. Depending on the size of its pipe diameter, its annual transportation volume can reach millions of tons to tens of millions of tons, or even more than a hundred million tons.
(2) Less land occupation.
Transport pipelines are usually buried underground, which occupies very little land; the construction practice of the transport system proves that the part of the transport pipeline buried underground accounts for more than 95% of the total length of the pipeline, thus the permanent occupation of land is very little, respectively, only 3% of the highway, about 10% of the railroad, in the transportation planning system, give priority to the pipeline transport program, for saving land resources, is of great significance.
(3) Short construction period and low cost of pipeline transportation.
A large number of domestic and foreign transportation system construction practice has proved that the construction cycle of pipeline transportation system is generally shorter than the same volume of railroad construction cycle, more than 1/3. Historically, it took China only 23 months to build a 1,152-km oil pipeline from Daqing to Qinhuangdao, while it would take at least 3 years to build a railroad with the same capacity, and the 4,200-km natural gas pipeline from Xinjiang to Shanghai is expected to take no more than 2 years to build, but if a new dedicated railroad line with the same capacity is built, the construction cycle will be more than 3 years, especially However, if a new railway line with the same capacity is built, the construction period will be more than 3 years, especially if the geological and climatic conditions are relatively poor, it will be more difficult to build a railroad on a large scale and the period will be longer.
Comparison between natural gas pipeline transportation and liquefied natural gas shipping (LNG). In order to transport 300m3/a (m3/year) of natural gas, for example, the investment for the construction of 6,000 km pipeline is about 12 billion USD; while the investment for the construction of the same scale (20 million tons) of LNG plant is more than 20 billion USD; in addition, about 20 LNG vessels with a capacity of 12.5 million m3 are needed, and the cost of a 12.5 million m3 LNG vessel is more than 200 million USD The total cost of shipbuilding is about 4 billion USD. In terms of investment alone, the use of LNG is much higher than that of pipelines.
(4) Pipeline transportation is safe, reliable and continuous.
Since oil and natural gas is flammable, explosive, volatile and easy to leak, the use of pipeline transportation is safe and can greatly reduce volatile losses, while air, water and soil pollution caused by leakage can also be greatly reduced, that is to say, pipeline transportation can better meet the green requirements of transportation projects, in addition, since the pipeline is basically buried in the ground, its transportation process of harsh and variable climate conditions have little impact In addition, since the pipeline is basically buried underground, its transportation process has little impact on the harsh and changing weather conditions, which can ensure the long-term stable operation of the transportation system.
(5) Pipeline transportation is less energy-consuming, low cost and good efficiency.
Developed countries use pipelines to transport oil, the energy consumption per ton kilometer is less than 1/7 of the railroad, and the transportation cost in large quantities is close to that of water transportation, so in the absence of water conditions, the use of pipeline transport is one of the most energy-efficient transport methods. Theoretical analysis and practical experience have proved that the larger the diameter of the pipeline, the farther the transport distance, the larger the transport volume, the lower the transport cost.

Disadvantages of pipeline transportation

Highly specialized type

The object of transportation is restricted, and the cargoes transported are relatively homogeneous. It is suitable for transporting only gas and liquid cargoes such as oil, gas, chemicals, coal slurry, etc.


Pipeline transportations are not as flexible as other modes of transportations (e.g. car transportations), in addition to the fact that the transported cargo is single, it is not possible to expand the pipeline at will. To achieve “door-to-door” transport services, for general users, pipeline transport often has to cooperate with railroad transport or car transport, waterway transport to complete the whole transport.

Large fixed investment

In order to carry out continuous transportation, it is necessary to establish storage depots and pressurization stations at each intermediate station to facilitate smooth pipeline transportation.


Pipeline transportation belongs to exclusive transportation, its production and transportation and marketing are mixed into one, and it is not provided to other consignors.

Source: China Piping System Manufacturer – Yaang Pipe Industry (www.steeljrv.com)

(Yaang Pipe Industry is a leading manufacturer and supplier of nickel alloy and stainless steel products, including Super Duplex Stainless Steel Flanges, Stainless Steel Flanges, Stainless Steel Pipe Fittings, Stainless Steel Pipe. Yaang products are widely used in Shipbuilding, Nuclear power, Marine engineering, Petroleum, Chemical, Mining, Sewage treatment, Natural gas and Pressure vessels and other industries.)

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