The ability to transport produced hydrocarbons has always been an important factor in the successful development of an oil or natural gas field, both onshore and offshore. Historically, pipelines have been the most common means used to transport crude oil produced in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The technology and methods involved in pipeline transport of product from offshore oil and gas fields located in the shallower waters of the Gulf of Mexico OCS have evolved to the level of routine and commonplace. Much of the same technology and methods would be employed in the deep waters beyond the edge of the continental slope; however, the operating environment for deepwater pipelines differs from the operating environment of pipelines on the shelf. The current extent of oil pipeline infrastructure in the GOM is shown on Figure 1. As of June 2001, there were approximately 44,218 km (27,569 mi) of pipeline on the seafloor of the GOM. Most of these pipelines support shelf and near-shelf facilities; a small percentage supports deepwater operations.
This course presents a general summary of pipeline information and issues in the Gulf of Mexico. The collected information is not intended as an in-depth review of pipeline activities and issues, but rather general information for decision makers, regulatory agencies, and other interested parties. This paper has also been prepared to serve as a general reference document for environmental assessments prepared on specific pipeline applications.
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