Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquid and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air have also been used.

As for gases and liquids, any chemically stable substance can be sent through a pipeline. Therefore, sewage, slurry, water, or even beer pipelines exist; but arguably the most important are those transporting oil and natural gas.

Dmitri Mendeleev first brought up the idea in 1863. He suggested using a pipe for transporting petroleum.

Design of a Pipeline

The operator should ensure that no substance is conveyed in a pipeline unless it has been so designed that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it can withstand –

  • forces arising from its operation;
  • the substances that may be conveyed in it; and
  • The external forces and the chemical processes to which it may be subjected.

The purpose of this is to ensure that the design of a pipeline, or any modification to it, takes into account the operating regime for the pipeline, the conditions under which the substance is to be conveyed as well as the environment to which the pipeline will be subjected,

Safety Systems

The pipeline should be provided with such safety systems, as necessary, to protect people from risk. Safety systems cover various means of protection such as emergency shut-down valves and shut-off valves which operate on demand or fail safe in the closed position, so minimising loss of containment of the pipeline inventory. Safety systems also include devices provided which prevent the safe operating limits being exceeded, for example pressure relief valves.


All materials of construction specified in the design of, and in any possible modifications to, the pipeline should be suitable for the intended purpose. This requirement also applies to the associated equipment.

The material of construction should be able to withstand the physical and chemical conditions of the substance to be carried under operating conditions for which the pipeline has been designed. Any changes to the substance or the operating conditions of the pipeline, including an extension of the pipeline design life, will warrant a reassessment of the pipeline material to ensure it is capable of carrying the substance safely.

Construction and Installation

Ensure that a pipeline, which has been properly designed, is fabricated, constructed and installed in a manner to reflect that design. During the installation, design considerations such as the location of the pipeline, depth of cover, need for supports or anchors, and extra protection at vulnerable locations should be adhered to.

Suitable procedures should be developed for the construction and installation of the pipeline. Pipe-laying techniques, appropriate to both the location of the pipeline and the type of pipeline being laid should be used.

Before a pipeline is brought into operation it is common to allow the introduction of a fluid, commonly water, into the pipeline to pressure test as part of the demonstration of its soundness and fitness for purpose. Testing for this includes pre-commissioning work such as pressure testing, flushing or cleaning the pipeline, or other activities which introduce fluids into the pipeline, prior to bringing it into use and the use of intelligent pigs in carrying out a baseline inspection.

Work on a Pipeline

Ensure that any subsequent modification, maintenance or other work, such as inspection, of a pipeline should be carried out in such a way as not to affect detrimentally the pipeline's continuing fitness for purpose.