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Phases of Pipeline Construction: An Overview

A pipeline being lowered into a trench
A pipeline being lowered into the trench

Planning for new capacity must begin far in advance of transporting the first barrel of oil, refined petroleum product, or first cubic foot of natural gas. Pipeline companies must determine possible routes for the new pipelines; acquire the right-of-way (ROW) to build, operate and maintain the pipelines; engineer the actual system designs; and construct the pipelines. Each of these steps are subject to rigorous regulatory reviews and approvals. Construction can only begin after the route selection receives regulatory approval, the ROW is obtained, and the system design is completed.

Regardless of the length of the pipeline, the construction process must be carefully planned to ensure the safety and integrity of the new pipeline and then executed to meet construction schedules and weather conditions. In some ways, installing a pipeline is much like an assembly-line process, with sections of the pipeline being completed in a sequence of repetitive steps.