Oil pipelines have come a long way since the first recorded use of it back in 1859 in Pennsylvania. If we were to consider the sheer length of the current oil and gas pipelines combined globally, there is enough to circle the Earth 30 times over. These man-made structures literally run the world! And it requires a gigantic amount of planning, building, and maintenance. Here we have summarised some of the longest pipelines in the world as a nod to the people and the companies who make it happen.
1. Colonial Pipeline 5,500 mi (8,850 KM)
A little more than half (51%) of the world’s total oil and gas pipelines by length are in the Americas and the Colonial Pipeline is the longest in the world.
Owned by a few companies (Koch industries, Keats Pipeline investors, CDPQ, Shell and IFM investors), this long oil pipeline system originates in Texas, and carries gasoline and jet fuel to as far as New York. It recently suffered a ransomware cyberattack due to compromised password and computerised equipment managing the pipeline. It takes approximately 18.5 days for a batch to get from Texas to New York harbour.
2. Druzhba Pipeline: 3,417 mi (5,500KM)
Druzhba (meaning friendship) Pipeline is supposed to be the biggest crude oil pipeline network. The whole system of the pipeline is around 5,500 km. The pipeline supplies oil from Russia to the energy-hungry eastern and western European countries. It runs from Almetyevsk in central Russia to Schwedt in northern Germany, with over 20 pumping stations along the way. It cost the Russian state-owned Transneft around $5.92m.
Of all the European countries, this pipeline is critical for Germany as it supplies a quarter of its crude oil needs. Druzhba delivers approximately 914,000 b/d to Europe as of 2022. The pipeline has been affected in parts by the February 2022 Verhunka explosion during the Ukraine crisis and has stopped delivering oil to Ukraine, citing non-payment.
3. Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean Oil Pipeline: 3017 mi (4,857KM)
The Kremlin-owned Transneft also operates the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean Oil Pipeline (ESPOOP). The pipeline begins from central Siberia to Skovorodino, which is close to the northern Chinese border.
In 2009, it signed a deal with China to supply 15 million tonnes of oil until 2029, in exchange for a loan of $25bn to Transneft and Rosneft for pipeline and oilfield development. Now it runs till Daqing and plans to add a new 3,000km pipeline to link Eastern Siberia to other Chinese border states. It would also further open Russian crude oils to the Asian markets of Japan and Korea.
4. The Keystone Oil Pipeline: 2,151 mi (3,462 KM)
The Keystone Oil Pipeline transports tar sands oil locked up in Canada’s boreal forest, to different parts of the country, and the U.S. TC Energy has been operating since 2010 and has over 39 pumping stations. The Keystone XL (the abbreviation standing for “export limited”) was the planned extension to channel the Canadian crude oils to the overseas market. However, its permits got revoked in the U.S. under the Biden administration and TC Energy shelved its plans.
5 . Kazakhstan-China Pipeline: 1738 mi (2,798 KM)
Often considered as China’s first direct oil import pipeline from central Asia, the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline connects Kazakh to Xianjing in central China. It carries 20 million tonnes of oil, or 142 million barrels per year. It also transports oil from Russia’s western Siberia to Kazakhstan’s oil terminal.
The recent policies that opened the five Caspian Sea states have the regions ready to export over 20 billion barrels of oil and 6.8 trillion cubic metres of natural gas. This could pave the way for more exports to Europe via the Trans-Caspian pipeline.
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