Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be rolling out a whole lot of information about pipelines. Why?
Because these metal tubes are truly the blood vessels of the oil and gas industry. Without them, the industry wouldn't be able to deliver the liquid fossil fuels to their refineries, or out to the customers after that. Technically, it could be done with trucks and trains and tankers, but the economics just wouldn't work. Without pipelines, liquid fossil fuels become impractically expensive.
(Note: you can find all of the posts in the pipeline series with the “pipeline” tag, or by following the links at the bottom of my post.)
So through one lens, pipelines are incredible. They cart valuable petroleum products from source to refinery to end use with remarkable efficiency. And they do so really cheap!
But not all is so rosy with these tools of fossil energy infrastructure. Pipelines leak and spill – pretty often, actually. They run through fragile ecosystems, under waterways, and across incredibly valuable aquifers. And as crucial as they are in delivering affordable fuel to your gas tank or furnace, they're pretty tempting targets for anyone who wants to deal our nation's energy supply a serious blow. In other words, our dependance on oil and gas pipelines makes our nation vulnerable to a terrorist attack, a concern that's been long established in security circles.