Predominately made of steel, pipelines move crude oil from fields on land and offshore to gathering systems for loading onto tankers or to refineries, where the crude oil is converted into fuels and other products.
Pipelines move natural gas from onshore and offshore fields to power plants, industrial facilities, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction plants and residential end users. Because natural gas often contains a significant amount of liquids or other gases, gathering systems will take the natural gas to a processing plant before larger pipelines move the natural gas to end users.
Most pipelines are buried, but they can also be built above ground or under water, depending on the terrain and the surrounding environment. Pipelines operate 24/7. The oil or gas is kept in motion by a system of pumps or compressor stations. We monitor some lines by flying or walking the route, and our operators monitor flow and pressure for any sign of integrity issues. On others, we use state-of-the-art technology to monitor, inspect and clean the pipelines.
Currently, ConocoPhillips operates approximately 27,991 miles of oil, natural gas, LPG and/or water pipelines throughout North America, the North Sea and the Asia Pacific region, including Australia. Onshore lines are located primarily in the Lower 48, Alaska and Indonesia, while offshore subsea pipelines are mostly in the North Sea (U.K. and Norway), Indonesia and China.
Pipeline Safety and Integrity
We are committed to ensuring the continued safety of the public, our employees, our contractors, the environment and our assets. In keeping with that commitment, we strive to protect our pipelines from corrosion, excavation damage and other threats.
We do this by adhering to all governmental standards and regulations, putting in place the necessary processes and procedures to manage risks, and ensuring that all employees and contractors comply fully with our Health, Safety and Environment and Asset and Operating Integrity programs. In the U.S., we also participate in an industry cooperative “one-call” Dial Before You Dig program, which makes it easy for construction contractors to contact all pipeline and utility operators in an area – ours and others – at one time.