Industry 411: What is Pipeline Transportation?

A pipeline stretches out from the viewer. It’s sunset and there are mountains in the background.

Whether you’re driving to school, cooking something for dinner, or just lounging in the air conditioning, you’re using energy. And that energy doesn’t just appear out of the blue.

In the 21st century, scientists are learning to harness energy from dozens of sources—from the sun, to the wind, or even using algae. But to generate the power we need to run billions of homes, factories, and cars, we still rely on fossil fuels, like petroleum or natural gas. These materials come from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. They’re buried deep in the earth in locations that could be hundreds, or even thousands of miles from their final destination. Pipelines are used to transport these raw materials from their sources to locations all across the globe.

Pipelines are like superhighways for energy. They transport the materials, like natural gas, that we rely upon for our cities and homes. Pipelines can run above ground, buried beneath the surface, or even undersea. They can be hundreds or even thousands of miles long. They can even span entire countries. When you heat your home on a chilly night, there’s a good chance that the energy you’re using came from a pipeline.

It takes a lot of energy to power even a single city, let alone an entire country. This makes pipeline transportation a booming industry that employs thousands of people globally. And within the industry, there are some pretty amazing—and important—careers to choose from.

Imagine being an environmental engineer whose job is to make pipelines safer for the environment. Or a pipeline inspector performing maintenance to prevent leaks, breaks, or spills. Do you like working in a non-office setting? Imagine being a commercial diver who inspects pipeline laying deep under the ocean. What about a hazardous materials investigator helping energy companies follow safety rules and regulations?

Whatever area of expertise you choose, pipeline transportation is definitely an industry worth investigating. In this issue of Fast Forward, you'll learn about just a handful of the fascinating careers pipeline transportation has to offer. The rest? Well, that’s up to you to explore.

Aaron Mack
Fast Forward: Volume 2 Issue 4 – Pipeline