Pipeline Design & Approval

Key Takeaways

  • Pipelines are designed to meet stringent federal and state regulations covering pipe material, strength and thickness.
  • Pipeline routes also include the placement of pumps, compressor stations and storage tanks.
  • Operators engage with landowners along the pipeline right of way throughout the life cycle of the pipe.

How are pipelines designed for safety?

Pipelines are designed to fit their operating use and conditions. The steel must be certified as meeting industry and federal government quality requirements for toughness and strength.

Line pipe is manufactured to high industry standards.

All aspects of a pipeline’s design must follow stringent federal regulations. Pipeline design regulations cover design elements such as pipe material and grade, pipe strength, wall thickness, operating temperature, and internal and external pressure requirements necessary to maintain each pipeline’s integrity. Other design requirements cover valves, fittings, and welds. Pipelines are designed and constructed with computerized leak detection systems and must be able to run in-line inspection tools.

In addition to determining a pipeline’s route, the design phase includes strategic placement of valve locations, pumps, compressors stations, instrumentation and metering systems, and storage tanks along the pipeline.

Pipeline designs are carefully reviewed and approved by state and federal regulators, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The construction phase can only begin after route selection, easement negotiations, environmental assessments, permitting and many other pre-construction actions have been completed.

Community Outreach

Pipeline operators are committed to being good neighbors. Pipeline company representatives, sometimes known as landmen, regularly engage with emergency responders, public officials, residents of communities they serve and with landowners along their routes to share information and keep them informed about the pipeline before, during and after construction. Operators of energy pipelines regularly go above and beyond minimum regulations to inform and engage communities they serve.

Community engagement

Pipeline company representatives regularly engage with community residents.

In 2024, pipeline operators worked collaboratively with members of the public and government representatives to develop and publish a framework for public engagement. The framework covers transmission and gathering lines regulated by the US Department of Transportation to establish and maintain public engagement programs and processes with external stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a pipeline, reinforcing industry’s social license to operate today and into the future. It provides guidance for establishing long-term relationships with landowners and relevant stakeholders based on trust, transparency, responsiveness and inclusiveness. Pipeline operators also compiled leading public engagement and community building practices in the Community Engagement Guidelines, aiming to ensure that safe and responsible energy transportation occurs hand-in-hand with community and stakeholder input. Discover how industry employees strive to be good neighbors in every community they live and operate.