While iron pipe for other uses in the U.S. dates back to the 1830s, the use of pipe for oil transportation started soon after the drilling of the first commercial oil well in 1859 by “Colonel” Edwin Drake in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
The first pipes were short and basic, to get oil from drill holes to nearby tanks or refineries. The rapid increase in demand for a useful product, in the early case kerosene, led to more wells and a greater need for transportation of the products to markets. Early transport by teamster wagon, wooden pipes, and rail rapidly led to the development of better and longer pipes and pipelines.
In the 1860s as the pipeline business grew, quality control of pipe manufacturing became a reality and the quality and type of metal for pipes improved from wrought iron to steel.
Technology continues to make better pipes of better steel, find better ways to install pipe in the ground, and continually analyze its condition once it is in the ground. At the same time, pipeline safety regulations have become more complete, driven by better understanding of materials available and better techniques to operate and maintain pipelines.
They continue to play a major role in the petroleum industry providing safe, reliable and economical transportation. As the need for more energy increases and population growth continues to get further away from supply centers, pipelines are needed to continue to bring energy to you.
From the early days of wooden trenches and wooden barrels, the pipeline industry has grown and employed the latest technology in pipeline operations and maintenance. Today, the industry uses sophisticated controls and computer systems, advanced pipe materials, and corrosion prevention techniques.