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Pipeline Mobility & Reliability

Transmission Pipeline Diameter

In the OKI region, gas and liquid transmission pipelines range from less than one inch to 42 inches in diameter. The greatest length of pipeline (36 percent) is less than two inches in diameter. The length of this smallest sized pipeline grew by 66 percent between 2010 and 2020. Only Butler and Warren counties contain pipelines of the largest diameter (42“). The drop in larger-sized pipeline is due to the decline in miles of gas transmission pipelines.

Transmission Pipeline Capacity

Pipeline capacity is the quantity or volume of liquid or gas required to maintain a full pipeline. The static capacity of a liquid pipeline depends upon the diameter and length of the facility; and it is calculated using the formula, π (3.1415) x Radius2 x Length. From Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) data, OKI calculated the total static volume for liquid transmission pipelines in the region to be 482,350 barrels (Bbl). Barrels are the standard units of measurement used for pipeline liquid volume. A barrel is equal to 42 U.S. standard gallons. (Source: NuGenTec. (2021). Online Pipeline Volume Calculator.)

A huge 96 percent drop in Boone County liquid volume between 2010 and 2020 is attributed to the loss of all its larger diameter liquid pipelines (20” and 22”). Similarly, Hamilton County’s almost quarter drop in volume is due to the loss of its large (20”) liquid pipeline. Conversely, Warren County’s staggering 376 percent volume increase is due to huge additions in large (20”) liquid pipeline miles between 2010 and 2020. To a lesser but still significant degree, Butler County’s volume increased 185 percent, once again due to increases in large, 20” diameter liquid pipelines. Kenton County’s 23 percent volume increase was due to modest increases in smaller diameter (4”-12”) pipeline expansion. Despite the removal and additions of larger diameter pipeline across counties, the region’s liquid transmission pipeline capacity grew 113 percent overall for the decade.

The previous section discussed the region’s pipeline volumes only from a static liquid perspective. The fluid volume passing through a pipeline in a specific time period will depend on many factors. These include initial pressure, flow characteristics, ground elevation/gravity, density, and delivery pressure. Because this data is not publicly available, an annual total volume of liquid product transported through the OKI region’s pipelines cannot be shared here.

Regarding pipelines transmitting natural gas, here is a general reference: a 50-mile section of 42-inch pipeline (at about 1,000 pounds of pressure) contains about 200 million cubic feet of gas. This is enough to power a kitchen range for more than 2,000 years. In 2020, the OKI region had a total of 54.26 miles of 42-inch gas pipeline. (Source: American Gas Association. (2022). How does the natural gas delivery system work?)

Pipeline Mobility

Interstate pipeline means a pipeline or that part of a pipeline that is used to move liquids or gases between states, across the nation, or for foreign commerce. The region has witnessed a huge shift in miles of transmission pipeline dedicated to interstate conveyance of product. In 2010 only 46 percent of all pipeline was designated as interstate, while in 2020 it had grown to represent 85 percent. The takeaway: The OKI region’s pipelines are serving a more critical role in supplying the region with freight products from other states across the country.

The Role of Petroleum Product Terminals

Since the demand for pipeline products does not always relate directly with production volumes, terminals are required across the network for storage. The main function of petroleum product terminals in the supply chain is to provide temporary storage for refined products, so that they can be distributed as needed to end residential, commercial, and industrial users. The OKI region has 11 operable petroleum product terminals. They have a bulk shell storage capacity of 50,000 barrels or more, and/or receive petroleum from pipelines, tanker truck, rail, or barge. All bulk terminal operators must provide terminal data reports to be in accordance with Section 13(b) of the Federal Energy Administration Act of 1974. This data is not available to the public. However, based on the region’s pipeline network, it is likely that many of the region’s terminals serve as key pipeline storage and transfer stations for moving petroleum to other freight modes.

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