TLDR: Oil pipes are dangerous but are being used more as conventional methods of oil and gas retrieval are no more. Ocean extraction is becoming the new norm.
Did you turn on your lights this morning? Heat your home? Drive to work? These actions all use petroleum products. Every year Canadians consume up to 108 billion liters of refined petroleum products (Government of Canada, 2018). Do you know where this petroleum comes from? Deep underground you say? Well you might be more surprised when I tell you that almost 20% of your petroleum comes from the oceans. Believe it or not, about 20% of the total crude oil production in North America comes from the Gulf of Mexico (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2018). How do we get oil from the ocean to your car? The answer is simple – pipes.
There are thousands of kilometers of submarine pipes are being used daily. These pipes transport raw material directly from the depths of the ocean to either an oil platform or to an oil refinery on land. These are complex systems with multiple protective measures in place to protect from potential ‘oil spills’. Occasionally these pipelines… well… explode…
Okay, okay. You say that isn’t a picture of a pipeline. BUT, the explosion of the pipeline underwater caused the oil rig itself to explode. These problems can be mitigated and ultimately should never happen in the first place but with poor maintenance and pipeline regulations, pipeline health seems to have slipped through the cracks – to put it nicely.
As the easy sources of oil and gas become more sparse, governments are looking for the next big thing. Canada currently extracts oil and gas by separating it from ‘sand’ but with the drop of oil and gas prices worldwide, these extraction practices become expensive and no longer economically feasible. Norway, one of the world’s leaders in oil and gas extraction from off shore methods, uses pipelines all the time to extract the black gold from the Earth. Currently, Norway and Russia are investigating the potential to recover oil and gas resources from the untouched Arctic. They predict that the Arctic contains approximately 22% of the world’s undiscovered, technical recoverable oil and gas resources (INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners, 2014). These countries are currently exploring the potential to develop this region and looking at the cost versus benefits of extracting this resource.
If you are wondering how these government plan to move thousands of barrels of raw oil and gas hundreds of kilometers through desolate, cold, icy terrain, you guessed it. Pipes. One of the key principles of investigating the arctic north is the construction of ‘pipelines and sub sea installation’. They have come up with a ‘small’ list of key characteristics for operation and installation of pipelines in the Arctic and here is the dot-jot version of it:
- Low temperature,
- Sea ice,
- Polar lows,
- And visibility.
I know, I know. You think. These seem like pretty big things when installing pipelines in the arctic, with, for example, temperatures reaching as low as -60°C but rest assured, it still is possible.
Return next week and we will investigate who, what, where, when, why and how these governments plan to conquer the Arctic North and what’s in store for oil pipe installation.
For more information on oil pipe installation investigate here:
- Longest Installed undersea pipeline completed
- Multi-billion dollar pipeline projects battle to stay on track
- NRCAN – Petroleum Facts
- Off shore Oil in the USA
- Later instability and tunnel erosion
- Russian – Norwegian Oil and Gas Industry cooperation in the High North
- Prediction of pipeline scour depth
- Scour Protection of Underwater pipelines
- Submarine Pipeline Systems
- Global offshore pipeline construction service market
- Identify the submarine cable route off of Campania Islands
- Guidelines for offshore environmental monitoring
- Trench of the environmental supervision on submarine pipeline installation