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Pipeline transport is a transportation of goods through a tube. 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 these transporting oil and natural gas. Often these pipelines are inspected and cleaned using pipeline pigs.
Oil and natural gas pipelines
When talking about the transportation of large quantities of oil or natural gas on the surface, pipeline transport is the only economically feasible way. Compared to railroad, it has lower cost per unit and also higher capacity. Although pipelines can be built even under the sea, that is both economically and technically very demanding process, so the majority of oil at sea is transported by tanker ships.
Oil pipelines are made from steel tubes with inner diameter from 30 to 120 cm. Where possible, they are built above the surface. The oil is kept in motion by a system of pump stations built along the pipeline and usually flows at speed of about 1 to 6 m/s.
Pipelines conveying flammable or explosive material such as natural gas or oil pose special safety concerns.
- June 4, 1989 - sparks from two passing trains detonated gas leaking from an LPG pipeline near Ufa, Russia. Up to 645 people were reported killed.
- October 17, 1998 - at Jesse in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, a petroleum pipeline exploded killing about 1200 villagers, some of whom were scavenging gasoline - the worst of several similar incidents in this country.
- June 10, 1999 - a pipeline in a Bellingham, Washington park leaked gasoline, vapor from leak exploded and killed 2 children
- July 30, 2004 - a major natural gas pipeline exploded in Ghislenghien, Belgium near Ath (thirty kilometres southwest of Brussels), killing at least 23 people and leaving 122 wounded, some critically. (Reuters) (CNN)
List of pipelines
- Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline (BTC)
- Druzhba pipeline
- Operation Pluto - world's first undersea oil pipeline (1942)
- Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP)
- Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS)
- Trans-Israel pipeline
Pipelines for other liquids and gases
Pipelines are useful for transporting water long distances where it needs to move over hills, or where canals or channels are poor choices due to considerations of evaporation, pollution, or environmental impact.
Bars in the AufSchalke Arena are interconnected by a 5 km long beer pipeline. It is the favourite method for distributing beer in such large stadiums, because the bars have to overcome big differences between demands during various stages of a match; this allows them to be supplied by a central tank.
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