There are over 2.4 million miles of pipelines in the United States. That’s enough to circle the earth roughly 100 times. Pipelines exist in all 50 states, and pipeline development and investment is a big-dollar business. In 2017, investment in oil pipeline carrier property exceeded $111.8 billion, according to the Oil and Gas Journal.

In 2017, the largest interstate pipeline companies in the United States were:

CompanyMileage
Magellan Pipeline Co. LP9,992
Mid-America Pipeline Co. LLC8,083
Plains Pipeline LP7,055
Sunoco Pipeline LP5,858
Colonial Pipeline Co.5,587
Phillips 66 Pipeline LLC4,789
Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Co. LLC4,356
ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.4,213
Enbridge Energy LP3,892
BP Pipelines (North America) Inc.3,851

While these are the largest pipeline owners in the United States, there are actually 3,000 different pipeline owners and operators in this country ranging from large to small, according to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

U.S. Companies spend a lot of money to build their pipelines, but not enough on the workers who actually build them. In 2017, it was estimated that the cost to construct a single mile of land pipeline was $9.95 million. Of this $9.95 million, companies spend approximately $4 million on labor per land pipeline mile.

A lot is required to construct a pipeline, and every step presents a situation where a pipeline worker can be injured if the proper safety precautions are not taken. The steps include:

  1. Site preparation: clearing and grading the terrain, which includes things like removing trees and boulders, stacking timber, etc.
  2. Pipe stringing: transporting pipe to the site and unloading and distributing it along the right of way
  3. Trenching: digging trenches with trenchers and backhoes; rock drilling and blasting; stockpiling of removed dirt and other materials for backfilling
  4. Bending: use of a bending machine to slightly bend pipe for slight turns and maneuvers
  5. Welding: temporarily support sections of pipe and weld them
  6. Coating: coating is often applied to weld sites
  7. Lowering: use of sidebooms and machinery to lower pipe
  8. Backfilling: use of machinery to return earthen materials to cover pipe
  9. Testing: hydrostatic testing to ensure integrity of pipe
  10. Site restoration: using machinery to restore topographical site to pre-construction appearance

Once a pipeline is built, much work is required maintain it and ensure it is safe. And because of the explosive nature of what the pipeline is often transporting, pipeline incidents can be fatal. For example, in 2018, a Midland County home explosion was caused by a natural gas pipeline leak, killing a toddler.

If you or a loved one has been injured or tragically killed while working in connection with a pipeline, the Houston pipeline explosion lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard can help. Please call us or click here for a free, confidential consultation.

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