Step-by-step: a look at pipeline design

Our ‘Step-by-step’ blog series takes a look at different practices and procedures in the transmission pipeline industry.

This week we’re outlining what happens during the pipeline design process – it’s more involved than you might think! Based on over 500 pages of standards and regulations, the design for each pipeline covers every aspect from routing, materials, pipe construction, laying the pipeline, safety and pipeline integrity.

Here’s a quick look into the world of pipeline design


Pipeline design begins with a study of the proposed route, including full environmental and engineering assessments:

Pipeline design


Designers draft detailed schematics based on over 500 pages of standards:

Pipeline design schematics


The composition of the steel is a key factor to in the pipeline’s integrity. That’s why alloys may be added to the steel so it meets the precise specifications:



Pipeline Inspection

Pipelines are inspected using X-ray technology and hydrostatic testing. This technician is inspecting the pipe from the inside!

Inspecting the pipeline from inside


The pipeline is then coated with corrosion-resistant, powdered epoxy:

Epoxy coating on pipeline


During construction, huge valves are placed along the pipelines at regular intervals so the flow can be shut off in the event of a spill:

6. Valves


After construction, the land is remediated. Aside from above-ground facilities at intervals along the pipe, there is almost no sign that the land has been disturbed:

7. Finished landscape


Of course that’s the shortened version of the process! If you’d like to learn more, watch this video for the full story:


Stay tuned as we continue this ‘Step-by-step’ series. Next we’ll take a look at pipeline technology. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about pipeline design, check out this blog post: Pipelines: safe by design.


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.