The majority of products leaving the refinery - including gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil and kerosene (jet fuel) - travel to regional distribution centers via a network of underground pipelines that can range from 8" to 45" in diameter.
But chances are that you've never noticed the more than 95,000 miles of refined product pipelines that traverse the United States. That’s because pipeline operators seek to minimize their environmental impact by carefully selecting routes, by maintaining their equipment for safe, reliable operation and by restoring the landscape over the completed pipe.
The following is a brief overview of the pipeline system:
Each of the nation's major pipelines carries products from many refineries. Feeder lines coming in from an individual refinery meet up with the main, or "trunk," line at a junction, usually controlled by a ball valve.
A series of pump stations along the pipeline help keep the liquid product under pressure and moving forward. The pumps, similar to those detailed in the "Transport to Refinery" section, can adjust pipeline pressure according to factors such as pipeline diameter and the specific properties or the product being carried.
The distribution center features large-capacity storage tanks for each of the products moving through the pipeline. As product flows into the distribution center, samples are removed and tested in a sample house. The tests ensure that the right product is directed to the right storage tank. The tests also identify where one product ends and another begins - an essential feature because multiple products travel through the line one after the other.»next