What are the solutions for oil transportation by land?
Today, there are several onshore solutions for oil transportation. Sea transport is widely used but doesn’t allow oil to be transported to areas without navigable bodies of water. Moreover, this option presents significant risks of ecological disaster. This is why effective land transportation methods have been developed over the years.
Here is an overview of the different existing solutions and precautions to take concerning this indispensable but particularly dangerous commodity.
Pipelines as an oil transportation solution
The term pipeline is used to designate an important conduit that transports various solids, liquids and gases throughout the region. With regard to oil transportation, this conduit is called an oil pipeline. It can be underground or on the surface and connects refineries to different consumption centers. In Canada and the United States, 97% of hydrocarbons are transported via pipelines.
Technically, a pipeline is a steel or plastic pipe that can be up to one meter in diameter and thousands of kilometers in length. Pumps are installed along the route to ensure the smooth flow of oil. The average speed is 7km per hour. However, pipeline construction has a significant impact on the environment and the ecosystem. Certain areas are therefore denatured following tree cutting or trench digging. There are also risks associated with the fact that petroleum and its derivatives are flammable and can be explosive. In the case of a major incident, groundwater can also be contaminated.
Alternative land transportation solutions
Currently, pipelines aren’t enough to transport all the oil produced. Rail tankers are therefore used, sometimes alongside oil pipelines, forming a “virtual and mobile pipeline”. The tank car’s advantages include more mobility, the ability to use all existing railways and to adapt to the demand by adding more cars if necessary. This solution is still considered dangerous because accidents, although very rare, are dramatic. Derailments can bring about heavy losses and cause fires and ecological disasters.
Oil transportation by truck is essentially reserved for previously refined products. It serves, for example, to supply service stations. Trucks have several compartments in their tanks to separate different types of fuel and avoid increasing the routes. Trucks are also the only means of transport that can reach any territorial regions with the help of numerous roads.
Transport solutions that present a danger
In order to minimize the risk of incidents, several public health experts have focused on hydrocarbon transportation as an environmental issue. According to them, precautions similar to those taken for dangerous products are essential.
As for oil pipelines, they are covered by several materials such as tar, a layer of wool or plastic to avoid corrosion. They are weighted with concrete to avoid dislodging with pressure. Pipeline flow and consumption are continuously monitored to anticipate all possible leaks.
For rail or truck transport, the main risk is an oil spill at the time of loading or unloading. There is also a significant accident risk during the journey. Driving a tanker truck is therefore particularly sensitive and requires the involvement of real professionals.
There are three main land transport channels for oil. While pipelines appear more reliable and efficient, trains and especially trucks will still be needed to transport oil and any at-risk product to its final consumption destination.
If you are looking for a trucking company with the expertise required to transport hazardous or explosive materials, don’t hesitate to contact Transport Econo Nord.