Fluid Power - Oil Pipelines


What oil pipelines are and how they work

Oil pipelines are an example of fluid technology. They are usually made up of plastic or metal and can be underground or above ground. Sometimes pipelines are also placed in water. What they do is transport oil from producing fields to refineries. The oil is refined at the refineries and then the oil can be used as fuel for cars that run on gasoline (most cars do). Lots of oil (3 million barrels to be exact) is transported every single day through the pipelines of the CEPA (which stands for Canadian Energy Pipeline Association). The oil is moved through the pipes using pump stations that pump the oil through the pipes.

Benefits of using oil pipelines

One of the benefits of using oil pipelines is that it can transport more oil that other methods of transporting oil. Other ways to transporting oil are using rail cars (trains) and tanker trucks. If we used tanker trucks instead of pipelines to transport 3 million barrels of oil, we would need 15 000 trucks to move the oil. If rail cars were used instead of tanker trucks and pipelines, then you would need 4 200 rail cars. Instead of switching to those methods of transportation it would be best to just stick with the pipelines that we currently have because we would need too many trucks and rail cars. Pipelines are also the least expensive to use to transport oil. They also have a lower carbon footprint than rail cars and tanker trucks. Underground pipelines are also safer to use as they can't be targeted as easily as trucks and rail cars by terrorists and they can't be vandalized easily as well. Without pipelines we wouldn't have gasoline to fuel to fuel our cars.

Costs of oil pipelines

Even though oil pipelines have a lot of value to society and are better for the environment than other options, there are also some costs of using them. One of the costs is the possibility of an oil spill. With underground oil pipelines, the chances of an oil spill are decreased but with above ground pipelines, there is a high chance of a spill. Below there is an example of an above ground oil pipeline spill. Another cost of oil pipelines is that even if it has lower carbon footprint than other methods of transportation, it still has a carbon footprint. This means that the environment is harmed due to oil pipelines. Another cost is that the constructions pipelines can take away the habitats of animals. Another cost of pipelines is that instead of having a lot tanker truck drivers, we now have pipelines which takes away the amount of jobs there are which means that more people are unemployed.
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