on December 13th, 2016

President of the United States, Barack Obama decided to veto the application and in turn canceled the project. Some experts believed it was politically motivated, however, activists had expressed their concerns pertaining to the pipeline. Activists said that “tar sand transport” would have released toxic chemicals into the air, having an adverse effect on the health of the people of Oklahoma. Additionally, the 850,000 barrels of oil that the pipeline would have transported, per day, would have also gone on to be environmentally harmful. Obama’s office cited the debate on climate change as a reason for the rejection of the plan.

Nonetheless, the engineers behind the Keystone project, when it was still being greenlit, tried to reassure the public that it would not be as harmful as some people thought. They said, “The Keystone XL Pipeline will be the safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but it will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans.” Some engineers believe that whilst other engineers work to build a future where renewable energy is the norm, the current energy-producing methods must still go forward.

Therefore, engineers who are proficient in onshore and offshore pipeline systems are still needed in the world. Offshore-Mag.com estimates that almost 4,000 miles of oil and gas export and transmission pipelines will be built from now, through to 2020, in offshore operations alone. Offshore pipeline installation requires engineers to know quite a bit about hydraulics; fluid dynamics, flow, and conveyance of fluids (oil, gas and water).

Amidst the outcries of protestors claiming the environment is damaged by pipelines and the subsequent emissions they produce, engineering experts have assured the public that the transportation of oil through pipelines is five times safer than transporting oil via railway. Spectra Energy says that long haul pipelines have a clean safety record and are reliable for onshore natural gas transmission. The pipelines are continually monitored to ensure they are working as efficiently and safely as possible, twenty-four hours a day. Should something go wrong with the pipeline, engineers are prepared to deal with the fallout as it happens.

The importance of safety in pipeline design cannot be understated. Billions of dollars have been spent on enhancing pipelines and securing their safety in the United States alone. The process of securing a pipeline’s safety occurs long before construction even begins. Qiang Bai and Yong Bai’s book Subsea Pipeline Design, Analysis and Installation outlines the design procedure for a possible pipeline system. The design guidelines are very similar for both onshore and offshore applications:

1. Design requirements
2. Pipeline wall thickness
3. Grade of pipeline material
4. Type of coating-corrosion and weight
5. Coating wall thickness

Corrosion, erosion or third-party damage to pipelines could result in environmentally damaging accidents, which is what the environmentally-conscious public is aware and scared of. When engineers design pipelines, however, the stress loads are calculated and a probability of failure figure is produced. Additionally, environmental safety impact assessments are also done, to measure the impact the construction and the operation a pipeline design might have.

Are you interested in diving into the very profitable world of oil, gas and water transportation and transmission engineering? A three-month course from the Engineering Institute of Technology will get you started on the basics of pipeline design and much more. Once the three months are over, you will be awarded a Professional Certificate of Competency in Onshore and Offshore Pipeline Systems. Best of all, you can do it in the luxury of your own home as all of the engineering training is done through interactive online sessions. You will learn about the key principles of pipeline design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance. You will be taught several pipeline specifications and standards to ensure that the pipelines you eventually work on will be built in a correct manner and are free from any sort of damage.

The EIT offers a three-month course related to the above, called the Professional Certificate of Competency in Onshore and Offshore Pipeline Systems. Please ask us for more information. 

Bai, Qiang, and Yong Bai. Subsea Pipeline Design, Analysis, and Installation. Print.

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