Pipeline Infrastructure Condition

System Components

Pipeline refers to all parts of a pipeline facility through which a hazardous liquid or gas moves in transportation, including, but not limited to line pipe, valves, and other parts connected to line pipe; pumping units; fabricated assemblies associated with pumping units; metering and delivery stations; and breakout tanks.

Most pipelines are located underground in rights-of-way (ROW) or adjoining property easements that have been acquired by or granted to the pipeline company. The ROW provides sufficient space to perform pipeline maintenance and inspections, as well as an area that can be monitored for security. Along these pipelines are pump stations for liquids and compressor stations for natural gas; storage and distribution facilities; and automated control facilities to manage the product movement and to maintain safety. Should a pipeline fail, a drop in pressure triggers the closure of specific sections to minimize damage.

Pipeline systems consist of three major components:

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Gathering pipelines

Gathering pipelines collect products from their sources such as natural gas or oil wells. These systems move the product to storage and processing facilities.

Transmission pipelines

Transmission pipelines transport large quantities of hazardous liquids or natural gas over longer distances. Natural gas transmission lines deliver products to distant power plants, large industrial customers and to municipalities for further distribution. Liquid transmission lines deliver products like crude oil to distant refineries or fuel to airports or depots for local truck delivery. These are the only type of pipeline for which PHSMA collects data.

Distribution pipelines

Distribution pipelines are a part of natural gas systems. They consist of pipelines that move gas directly to the end user, such as industrial business or residential customers. In addition, there are two subcategories of distribution pipelines — mainlines and service lines. Service lines connect to a single customer, while mainlines distribute gas to more than one service line.

Transmission Pipeline Mileage

In 2020, the OKI region had more than 1,130 miles of transmission pipelines. Comparing decades, several OKI member counties have seen a decrease in pipeline miles between 2010 and 2020. Most notably is Clermont County’s 74 percent drop in gas pipeline mileage. Duke Energy shared that such a decrease in pipeline miles is due primarily to the de-rating of the pipeline from transmission. This occurs when the pipeline is replaced with different material, so the pipeline no longer has a transmission rating or the pressure has changed. To a lesser extent, the decrease in pipeline miles could be attributed to the line being abandoned. Despite the drops in gas pipeline miles, the region has experienced an overall increase of 19 percent, which can be attributed to the huge growth in liquid transmission miles in half our member counties.

Transmission Pipeline Status

Another criterion monitored by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is the current status of the transmission pipeline. There are three status types: abandoned, idle, and in-service pipeline. Compared with the number of miles abandoned 10 years ago, another 30 miles of transmission pipeline have been abandoned as of 2020. The main reason a transmission pipeline is abandoned permanently is that it has reached the end of its useful life and is no longer economically viable for the operator, according to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA).

Despite the increase in abandoned pipeline, growth of in-service miles in Butler (46 percent), Warren (32 percent), and Hamilton (18 percent) counties has resulted in a net increase of 141 miles of pipeline actively transporting commodities in the OKI region. However, in 2020, in-service miles represent 95 percent of all regional transmission pipeline, whereas in 2010 it was 98 percent. This small percentage difference in in-service pipeline could be attributed to the impact of COVID-19 on commodity demand.

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Abandoned Pipeline

An abandoned pipeline means it has been permanently removed from service and remains in place, but not physically withdrawn.

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Idle Pipeline

An idle pipeline is not currently transporting commodity, but is maintained to a degree that it may, in the future, be potentially brought back into service.

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In-Service Pipeline

An in-service pipeline is actively transporting commodity at the current time.

Transmission Pipeline Improvements

Since many of the region’s pipelines have been in place for more than 50 years, companies work to repair and replace infrastructure as it reaches the end of its useful life. Old, deteriorated pipelines are being replaced with advancements in pipeline materials and installation of features, such as remote safety shut-off valves. Whenever possible, pipeline replacement projects are scheduled with other infrastructure improvement projects, such as road construction, to minimize public impact and expenses.

The region’s largest and most recent pipeline improvement project is the Duke Energy Central Corridor Gas Pipeline Project. With the project, Duke is upgrading their natural gas service lines in Hamilton County. Due to Duke’s pipeline network, they cannot supply natural gas from the south. So, they are expanding natural gas supply resiliency and diversification from their systems north of Hamilton County through the Central Corridor Project. With the project’s completion (scheduled for Spring 2022), Duke will have introduced about 12.75 miles of new gas pipeline in the communities of Sycamore Township, Blue Ash, Sharonville, Evendale, Reading, Amberley Village, Golf Manor and Cincinnati. (Source: Duke-Energy.com. (2022). Natural Gas Projects, Central Corridor Pipeline Extension.)

A picture containing large above ground pipes, gravel, excavator, and trucks.

C350 Norwood Station: The Southern End Point of Duke Energy’s Central Corridor Pipeline Under Construction
Source: The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. (2022).

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