Liquid pipelines are used to transport crude oil or natural gas liquids from producing fields to refineries, where they are turned into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. Some liquids pipelines are also used to transport these finished petroleum products from refineries to terminals and distribution centres in or nearby large population centres.
The Crude Oil Delivery Network
This diagram is illustrative of the Liquids delivery network. Actual delivery network configurations vary.
Moving liquids through pipelines
Producing oil fields commonly have a number of small diameter gathering lines that gather crude oil from the wells and move it to central gathering facilities called oil batteries. From here, larger diameter feeder pipelines transport the crude oil to nearby refineries and to long-haul pipelines. The largest pipelines, called transmission lines, transport crude oil and other liquids across the country.
Powerful pumps spaced along the pipeline push the liquid through the pipe at between four and eight kilometres per hour.
Liquid pipelines can be used to move different batches of liquids — on any given day a pipeline could be used to transport different grades or varieties of crude oil — with each batch of liquid is pushed along at the same speed along the pipe. Where the two batches do come in contact with each other there is a small amount of mixing that occurs — these small volumes, known as transmix, are reprocessed
Transmission pipelines transport crude oil to oil refineries — these are the facilities that convert the crude oil into petroleum products through various refining processes. Petroleum products are the useful fuels we use every day. Petroleum products include fuels such as gasoline, aviation fuel, diesel and heating oil, as well as hundreds of products such as solvents and lubricants, as well as raw materials for manufacturing petrochemicals.
Output From a Barrel of Oil (%)
Did you know?
Approximately 3 million barrels of crude oil travel through Canada’s crude oil pipeline network every day, enough to fill more than 475 million one-litre milk cartons or almost 200 olympic-sized swimming pools.
Did you know?
Crude oil moves at a speed of 5 kilometres per hour via pipeline, roughly walking speed.
What are crude oil and petroleum products?
Crude Oil is a naturally occurring mixture of liquid hydrocarbons, also called petroleum. Crude oil is often found along with natural gas, carbon dioxide, saltwater, sulphur compounds and sand. Typically, these substances are separated out from the liquid hydrocarbons at processing facilities near the producing field.