12 interesting facts, and surprising figures, about pipelines

Last week on this blog we celebrated back to school week with a myths vs. science quiz. This week we continue that educational theme with a little fun with numbers. Did you know, for instance that transmission pipelines are one of four different types? Or that there are about 830,000 km of underground natural gas and liquids pipelines in Canada? Read on for some more pipeline numbers that might just surprise you:

Facts About The pipelines

3x more pipelines than highways

Canada’s transmission pipeline network is more than three times the length of Canada’s national highway system.

20x round the world

If laid end to end, there are enough natural gas and liquids pipelines in Canada to circle the equator 20 times.

500 BC

The first hydrocarbon pipelines in recorded history were in China, in 500 BC, and they were made of bamboo.

100 years

Steel, the material used to make pipelines, has been used for over 100 years as a primary building material for things like bridges, factories, cars, trains and train tracks.

preparing a pipeline right of way

Facts About The product

5 kilometres per hour

Crude oil moves at a speed of 5 kilometres per hour via pipeline – roughly walking speed.

40 kilometres per hour

Natural gas moves through pipelines at up to 40 kilometres per hour.

200 swimming pools

Canada’s pipelines transport enough crude oil to fill 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day.

60% fewer spills

According to Natural Resources Canada, in the last decade, the rate of spills on federally-regulated pipelines was 57 per cent lower than in Europe and 60 per cent lower than in the United States.

Facts About The industry

2,500 partners

The Canadian pipeline industry works with over 2,500 local supply partners across the country. Some of them are CEPA Foundation members.

335 practice runs

In 2014, CEPA members held 335 emergency response exercises.

joint emergency response exercise

500 pages of standards

The Canadian pipeline standards document is over 500 pages of technical and operational requirements.

3x more gas

Cows and other ruminant animals emit three times as many greenhouses gases as the pipeline industry.


Plus … 1 last interesting fact

Cathodic protection, which is used to prevent corrosion in pipelines, is also used for the same purpose on the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

For more surprising pipeline facts, check out ‘Canada’s underground world: 4 things you need to know’, ‘5 great ideas you didn’t know came from Quebec’ and ‘6 pipeline technologies you’ll want to know about’.


The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 117,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2014, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.