The Ups and Downs of Trans Mountain Pipelines

August 8, 2019

Fossil fuels are in high demand even though people are switching over to alternative energy sources. The oil industry is earning more and more profits annually. It is a testament to its enormous success. There are a lot of places where drilling is done to find oil. Since finding oil is quite a challenge, so the companies develop the network of transportation after they find fossil fuel deposits.

         Source: oilprice

There are a lot of techniques in which the oil industry can move their product from one place to another. The oil tankers travel around using roads. 

Meanwhile, trains have individual tanks cars which are purpose-built to carry fossil fuels. The trans-mountain pipeline can carry it across a great distance. However, there are certain downsides to using a pipe. We can explore the ups and downs of trans-mountain pipelines to weigh their importance.

Merits of the Pipeline:

Some of the ups of using the pipeline are:

1. Economic Boost:

The Trans Mountain pipeline is an effective factor which contributes to the country’s economy. It directly increases the GDP ratio as the exports bring in revenues from countries it passes through. The area through which they pass through can also impose interstate transportation charges.

Source: pipeline101

2. Effective Transportation:

The state can quickly sell fossil fuels, which comes out of the oil wells. Since pipelines are the most convenient way of transporting fuel. The method is safe as the chance of spillage is minimal. So you have to look for tiny leaks that may spring up, other than that there is no danger of line loss.

The pipeline also reduces the cost of transportation as well. The trains and trucks which the oil companies use can be both expensive and hectic. It requires significant infrastructure and considerable supervision.

3. New Job Market:

The oil pipeline creates new jobs. It is a vast construction contract which usually includes clauses to hire the local people. Apart from that, it leads to many other employment opportunities which indirectly connects to the oil industry.

The plus point is that you can even employ individuals with zero experience and train them. Although the management prefers skilled labor, however, the job requires thousands of employees. Thus, even people with minimum skills can get employment.

4. Low Maintenance:

The pipeline requires minimal care. It is self-contained. Therefore you do not need constant maintenance. A small crew of technicians can keep the oil pipeline running. It will save you substantial revenue. Moreover, it will keep the operation working without any significant hindrance.

5. Reliable Source:

A trans-mountain pipeline is a constant source of delivering oil. The problem with other methods of transportation is that they face many obstacles. The issue can be from bad roads to mountains and lakes. If there is a situation which results in the stoppage of vehicles, then the supply of oil will stop altogether. The condition can become dire as the gap between demand and supply increases.

The oil pipeline, on the other hand, can pass through lakes, rivers, sea, marshes, and even over mountains.

6. Bulk Transportation:

The pipes can transport a lot more oil than other conventional methods. Since the diameter of the pipe is quite big so it can quickly move thousands of barrels of crude oil. The oil company can sell more and more product this way. The diameter of the pipeline can increase if the circumstances demand so.

The increase in production allows the industry to expand and find more sources to keep up with the demands.

Source: iljinsteel

7. Conservation of Ecosystem:

The contractors usually bury the pipelines underground. The land around the pipeline is then safe from any ill effects, and the local fauna continues to flourish. The carbon footprint of the pipe is quite less as the plants and trees continue to grow on top of it. The overall effect of the pipeline is minimal if you compare it to other means of transportation.

The Disadvantages of Oil Pipeline:

The downsides to using an oil pipeline are:

1. Oil Leak:

The oil leaks as a result of corrosion of the pipes can result in a big disaster. The company may not get the alert in time to contain it, even if the oil spill is quite significant. A constant inspection may reveal smaller leakages, but you can never be sure where the next drip may spring up. It is not possible to monitor every inch of it, as the oil pipeline is very long. Furthermore, if the pipe is underground, then you are unable to check it.

Usually, the Trans Mountain pipeline has a large diameter. Therefore the transporting capacity of the pipe is better. It means that the risk of oil spills is immense. The quantity will be in massive if you compare it with other sources such as train and truck tanks.

The pipeline should have top-quality double block and bleed valves at a certain distance to allow the workers to shut it down for repairs. This also helps to assure that the supply stops completely during maintenance.

2. Environmental Effect:

The oil leak can spell a colossal disaster for the ecosystem. The oil can seep into the ground and contaminate the water table. The land where oil spills it needs cleaning as plants cannot grow on such an area. The soil becomes acidic, and the toxicity level of the ground, preventing crops from growing.

If the oil is passing through the lake or seabed then it will harm marine life and other animals. The fishing industry also faces a setback as the number of fish decreases dramatically. The oil sticks to them, which require proper wash using detergents. The companies have to clean up all the oil spill. It is a massive undertaking which is not only costly but can result in lawsuits and other legal consequences.

Source: hcn

3. Liable to Accidents:

Fossil fuels such as oil are highly combustible. Therefore, you need to handle them with care. The leaks that spring up during events can ignite. There’s a considerable chance that the pipeline may catch fire and burn for miles and miles. Even if the fire does not spread, it will still cause significant damage.

There have been many incidents where people try to collect oil, and they receive burns. Moreover, there a chance of oil theft as well.


As you can see, there are several advantages and disadvantages when using trans-mountain pipelines. However, if you really think about it, it’s especially helpful for oil industries. The key is to be wary and follow all standard procedures to minimize the chances of accidents and damages as much as possible.

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