Oil and Gas Pipeline Jobs

Crude oil, also called petroleum (‘rock oil’), is the lifeblood of our nation. Without petroleum planes would not fly, cars would not run, roads would not be built, buildings and homes would not get heated and construction projects would grind to a halt. We refine a tremendous variety of products from petroleum not the least of which is gasoline. You probably need gasoline to commute to work and to visit with your family and friends, so petroleum is vital not just to our ability to earn a living, it is vital to being able to see those we care about as well. Even if our cars, trucks, and motorcycles did not require gasoline, we would still need petroleum for the very roads we drive down, as asphalt and tar are both by-products of refined petroleum. So is plastic, jet fuel, heating oil, nylon, natural gas, diesel, propane, kerosene, fertilizer, solvent, motor oil – the list goes on and on.

In Focus: Building a Pipeline

If petroleum is the lifeblood of our country’s energy needs then pipelines are the arteries that carry it. Pipelines not only carry the crude oil we need for refining, but much of the refined product as well, such as natural gas. There are over 200,000 miles of pipelines crisscrossing our nation pumping billions of gallons of oil and natural gas to collection points such as refineries, power stations, reserve tanks, and distributions stations, as you read this. To put that into perspective, the United States Interstate Highway System stretches for just 46,726 miles. Therefore, our petroleum pipeline network is over four times longer than our interstate highway system! It is by far the largest network of its kind in the world. Continental Europe does not even come close.

NOTE – Don’t miss the Alaska Oil section, which has information about the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline and more.

But have you ever noticed a pipeline? Chances are you have not. You are likely within a short drive from a major interstate and/or highway, probably even two or three. The same is true for pipelines but you would be hard-pressed to notice them, as they lie buried underground for the most part. Unlike the famous and often photographed Alaskan Pipeline (known as the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System – or TAPS), which has major portions above the ground, the vast majority of pipeline infrastructure in the United States is underground or underwater. Where you will start to see gas pipelines above ground is near their destinations, such as refineries and power plants, as shown in the following picture.

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Crude Oil and Gas Pipelines