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Why didn't a residential oil pipeline network spring up?

In_New_England
In_New_England Member Posts: 48
We have gas piped to a lot of houses, and of course we have an electrical grid, and we had telephone lines which have given way to internet service lines, but why no oil lines? Is this because of the immensely high environmental cost of an oil spill?

Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,983
    edited May 13
    The idea has been used. There was a condo complex in suburban Philadelphia area that has a 10,000 gallon tank on site. Each condo was equipped with a meter to be billed for each gallon used. There were many service calls to service the central distribution pump system. I believe the complex was called Comstock and it was located in Montgomery County. They were a customer in the 1970s and 1980s

    The idea was to keep the fuel delivery trucks off of the residential streets of the complex, not have individual tanks at each property. This was done when there was a moratorium on new gas pipelines.

    Unlike natural gas, if there was ever a leak in the distribution system, the lost fuel would contaminate the soil. Even a minor small leak over sufficient time could be an environmental disaster. A minor gas leak just floats into the atmosphere with relatively little danger of ignition.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    In_New_England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,699
    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EdTheHeaterManCLamb
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,983

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    I fill my truck with Gas about once a week Jamie
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    ratio
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    Ah...
    But you can put coal in a pipe network and deliver it...........
    They did, for a long long time which I think is what eventually lead to the natural gas setup we have.

    Fuel oil came much later, no?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jersey2
    Jersey2 Member Posts: 98
    They do pipe crude oil. Besides the reasons mentioned, maybe it was a lot cheaper to have it delivered by truck too. Having an oil tank and a truck to fill it a couple times a year has to be a lot cheaper than making an underground pipeline that would 100% leak at some point. Water mains have leaked, gas pipes have leaked. I have not heard of a telephone line leaking though ;-) Maybe how oil is refined into different products also adds to the reason.
    I'm not a plumber or hvac man and my thoughts in comments are purely for conversation.
    In_New_EnglandCLamb
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,279
    ChrisJ said:

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    Ah...
    But you can put coal in a pipe network and deliver it...........
    They did, for a long long time which I think is what eventually lead to the natural gas setup we have.

    Fuel oil came much later, no?
    Our natural gas distribution system started as a manufactured gas distribution system for lighting and cooking that was fed by a local gas works. In the mid 20th century natural gas pipelines were built to feed those local systems. There are lots of mid century subdivisions that had gas service for cooking and water heating but had oil for heating because the national network wasn't supplying enough natural gas to that area for heating yet.
    In_New_EnglandCLamb
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655
    mattmia2 said:

    ChrisJ said:

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    Ah...
    But you can put coal in a pipe network and deliver it...........
    They did, for a long long time which I think is what eventually lead to the natural gas setup we have.

    Fuel oil came much later, no?
    Our natural gas distribution system started as a manufactured gas distribution system for lighting and cooking that was fed by a local gas works. In the mid 20th century natural gas pipelines were built to feed those local systems. There are lots of mid century subdivisions that had gas service for cooking and water heating but had oil for heating because the national network wasn't supplying enough natural gas to that area for heating yet.
    Yes,
    Coal gas, no?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,279
    Jersey2 said:

    They do pipe crude oil. Besides the reasons mentioned, maybe it was a lot cheaper to have it delivered by truck too. Having an oil tank and a truck to fill it a couple times a year has to be a lot cheaper than making an underground pipeline that would 100% leak at some point. Water mains have leaked, gas pipes have leaked. I have not heard of a telephone line leaking though ;-) Maybe how oil is refined into different products also adds to the reason.

    But cable lines leak all the time. The rfi can be very disruptive to other services especially amateur radio and broadcast tv. They add a leak detection signal on one of the channels and have receivers in their trucks to detect leakage.
    In_New_England
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,699

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    I fill my truck with Gas about once a week Jamie
    You have a natural gas fueled truck? They're none too common. What size tank, and under what pressures are you running? LNG?

    Slurry coal pipelines do exist. The cost is high. Fuel oil actually came very early. 1900 or thereabouts for the earliest applications. Natural gas is actually rather late. Before that, many communities (and even some fancy estates!) had "town gas" which was a remarkably lethal mixture of hydrogen, water vapour, carbon monoxide (really!) and methane created from coal -- locally. The residual coal tars are among the more hazardous hazardous wastes -- and surprisingly common.

    One thing to remember about "oil": there are many grades. It would be feasible, of course, to establish a pipe network for the distribution of #2 heating oil. But why? For the bulk transport petroleum products pipelines have a great deal to be said for them. But for local delivery, trucks are much more flexible (obviously). Long distance bulk transport can be done by rail, as well, quite successfully, or barge or tank ship, if there is some water handy.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    I fill my truck with Gas about once a week Jamie
    You have a natural gas fueled truck? They're none too common. What size tank, and under what pressures are you running? LNG?

    Slurry coal pipelines do exist. The cost is high. Fuel oil actually came very early. 1900 or thereabouts for the earliest applications. Natural gas is actually rather late. Before that, many communities (and even some fancy estates!) had "town gas" which was a remarkably lethal mixture of hydrogen, water vapour, carbon monoxide (really!) and methane created from coal -- locally. The residual coal tars are among the more hazardous hazardous wastes -- and surprisingly common.

    One thing to remember about "oil": there are many grades. It would be feasible, of course, to establish a pipe network for the distribution of #2 heating oil. But why? For the bulk transport petroleum products pipelines have a great deal to be said for them. But for local delivery, trucks are much more flexible (obviously). Long distance bulk transport can be done by rail, as well, quite successfully, or barge or tank ship, if there is some water handy.
    I was referring to manufactured gas from coal, not slurry etc.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 109
    Jersey2 said:

    I have not heard of a telephone line leaking though ;-)

    Telephone lines do leak (Ive repaired many hundreds), but its not very exciting. Electrical lines are more exciting when they leak due to all of the sparks and light escaping.

    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,279
    ChrisJ said:

    mattmia2 said:

    ChrisJ said:

    No. It's because of the simplicity and safety of delivery by over the road truck. You can't put gas in a truck. You can't put electricity in a truck. You can't put a telephone in a truck. But you sure can put oil and coal in, and deliver them wherever you want, whenever you want.

    Ah...
    But you can put coal in a pipe network and deliver it...........
    They did, for a long long time which I think is what eventually lead to the natural gas setup we have.

    Fuel oil came much later, no?
    Our natural gas distribution system started as a manufactured gas distribution system for lighting and cooking that was fed by a local gas works. In the mid 20th century natural gas pipelines were built to feed those local systems. There are lots of mid century subdivisions that had gas service for cooking and water heating but had oil for heating because the national network wasn't supplying enough natural gas to that area for heating yet.
    Yes,
    Coal gas, no?
    It was usually coal, but it didn't have to be. The coal was transported by rail or water.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,983
    Jamie?  I go to the gas station at the corner and fill up with 87 Octane
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,699

    Jamie?  I go to the gas station at the corner and fill up with 87 Octane

    Thought that's I thought what you meant. May I point out that the gas[oline] station gets that stuff by truck... powered by diesel... Gasoline is transported by pipeline in most of the continental US -- very very little by rail, but some along the coasts by barge. It goes to a central distributor who then mixes the various additives and ethanol in (neither can be done before pipeline transport) and it goes from there by truck. The ethanol comes sometimes in pipelines, but more often by rail.

    Also regarding the pipiline question, though -- many larger airports with commercial traffic do have pipelines, but for JP4 or "avtur" -- not too different from diesel -- since they use a LOT of the stuff.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,983
    edited May 14
    Jamie… I know…. I used to drive one of those trucks.  Pick up fuel from a loading facility at the end ( or station on said pipeline) and also from a terminal along the river where ocean going barges were docked.  But there was only one location I’m aware of that has a residential end user piping system that metered fuel oil to the homeowner thru a pipeline.  I’m sure there were many more of such systems installed.  I’m only familiar with one.  See above post.  

    Just a play on words with your first reply.  But I agree with you and thought it was very interesting look at the whole utility system.  However, There is a company that predated the message delivery system we call “telephone”. The Pony Express used horses to deliver message from one person to another. And you can still get electric delivered by truck.  Just call the auto parts store and they will gladly deliver a 12 volt battery that can be used for many things, like starting your delivery truck. I also have bottles of water delivered to my home. 

    I guess you can have all that stuff delivered by truck but if it is cheaper to let the water company or the gas company or the electric company or the phone company handle those things for you, then infrastructure is there to make that happen faster and more efficient than the Pony Express.  

    Some day we may even have dinner delivered by pipeline or flying drone, or even teleported.  Beam be up a Big Mac Scotty. 

    I think we are off topic now.  I should stop here.  


    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,279
    didn't the pony express get replaced by the telegraph like a year after it started?
    CLamb
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,385
    edited May 14

    You can't put gas in a truck.

    Dang, wait until you find out about LPG that is delivered exclusively by truck. Or the millions of CNG powered trucks and buses driving around the continent.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,699
    GroundUp said:

    You can't put gas in a truck.

    Dang, wait until you find out about LPG that is delivered exclusively by truck. Or the millions of CNG powered trucks and buses driving around the continent.
    I am well aware of these. CNG is a relatively recent development; in comparison with the amount of diesel it is still relatively minor, although increasing in importance. CNG, particularly cryogenic liquefied, is also a very good way of getting natural gas -- which is or could be available in quantity -- from places where there is an excess to places where there is a deficit, but which are separated by an ocean. Whether it will be used in that way, however, is a political decision, not an engineering one. CNG has also been experimented with by railroads in the past with some success, however, it is not zero emissions so there has been a real dropoff in experimentation in that regard as the benefits vs. diesel just weren't there.

    There is an interesting -- and largely political -- conflict between the continuing development of CNG power for trucks and buses and the requirement to go to zero emissions -- CNG is NOT zero emissions. I could well be wrong, but I think the research emphasis will change from CNG to either hydrogen (which can be zero emissions, though not zero environmental impact, if created by solar, wind, or hydro) or to battery (which also can be zero emissions, though not zero impact). For shorter range -- up to a radius from charge location of 100 miles or so (300 miles total range) -- battery looks attractive enough to warrant research and development, particularly coupled with technology to swap a charged battery pack for a dead one, to eliminate the charging time dwell. For longer distances, however, either for over the road trucks or rail, I'm not convinced that battery is the best way to go (for either one you need an unrecharged range of about 1,000 miles). For long distance rail, it may be that the best -- although very very expensive -- option will be to go to entirely electrified systems (note that European experience in this regard is just not applicable to North America; the distances and power requirements aren't at all comparable -- the distance between London, UK, and Rome, Italy is about the same as New York to Chicago; London to Mumbai isn't a whole lot further than Boston to LA).

    Of course the environmental impact of producing batteries at that scale is horrendous, but that doesn't seem to be a concern at this point.

    I honestly don't know, from the engineering standpoint, what can be done with intercontinental freight. The days of iron men and sail are long gone. I have seen some interesting concepts for wind powered ships of scale put forward, but... none of them look to me, at least, as though they were designed with much thought or awareness of what conditions at sea really are like.

    Never mind doing that sort of transport at any kind of reasonable speed...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    hot_rodSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,445
    The pesky thing with petroleum is that it is wonderfully energy dense. A lot of btu/hr in a gallon that weighs less than water! 

    We have grown accustom to that, and that we can move incredible amounts of energy through small lines at low pressures. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655
    The pesky thing with petroleum is that it is wonderfully energy dense. A lot of btu/hr in a gallon that weighs less than water! 

    We have grown accustom to that, and that we can move incredible amounts of energy through small lines at low pressures. 
    I'm not so sure it's that dense compared to other options.  Uranium for example.

    #2 oil is 19,500 btu per pound.
    Uranium is 1,250,000,000 btu per pound.


    Unfortunately sometimes you need something with a little more kick than regular unleaded gasoline.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655
    edited May 16
    Interesting natural gas compressed seems to have 19,500-22,500 per pound.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ron
    ron Member Posts: 203
    mattmia2 said:



    But cable lines leak all the time. The rfi can be very disruptive to other services especially amateur radio and broadcast tv. They add a leak detection signal on one of the channels and have receivers in their trucks to detect leakage.

    ummm no.
  • ron
    ron Member Posts: 203
    piping natural gas (methane) and propane is easy, safe, low pressure, clean. If there's a leak both are non toxic and don't mix with ground water or anything else. Neither would corrode the inside of iron or other kind of piping.

    To pipe fuel oil, especially underground, in a residential setting there's the concern of exterior pipe deterioration just the same but also from within the pipe. Fuel oil is dirty and sedimenty and water within will become more problematic over time. Least of which the toxicity and expense associated with any kind of oil leak... how all the underground home oil tanks from way back are now basically illegal and to sell a house you can't have an underground oil tank (as simple as that setup was). And in any cold climate the oil gelling and plugging, so do you then bury the oil distribution piping 6' or more underground (at whatever added expense). Pretty sure it's more economical and better in every other way to truck deliver fuel oil vs distribution piping- for residential areas where there is not enough volume usage to justify the costs and maintenance. Power plants that would have however long piping, protected and maintained, coming from external above ground huge tank (depot) however far away, which is refilled by barge, different story obviously.
    In_New_England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655
    ron said:

    mattmia2 said:



    But cable lines leak all the time. The rfi can be very disruptive to other services especially amateur radio and broadcast tv. They add a leak detection signal on one of the channels and have receivers in their trucks to detect leakage.

    ummm no.
    Ummm yes.

    Leakage is a thing in electrical and electronic devices.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    GGross