Geography of the United States Pipeline System

The Gulf of Mexico and surrounding states from Texas to Alabama play a major role in the pipeline infrastructure of America. Very little crude oil is extracted from the Northeast. The largest source of the domestic crude oil produced is along the western shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which provides 16-17% of annual domestic crude oil production as well as 51% of U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity. For these reasons, this area is critical to understanding United States energy.

Many companies contribute to the massive amounts of energy provided via the Gulf of Mexico. One such, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, a natural gas-focused company, is the parent of many subsidiary companies which each perform a specific task, from collection to refinement to distribution of natural gas. Boardwalk Pipeline Partners owns distribution networks expanding from Texas to Ohio, and provides for numerous other pipelines which reach even Figure 3 Numerous compressor stations located along the pipeline system. Regions are split up geographically, and areas of concentration are accurate to areas producing large volumes of natural gas. Source: Energy Information Administration. (2009) Natural Gas Compressor Stations on the Interstate Pipeline Network: Developments since 1996. Retrieved December 9, 2015. further (Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, 2015). With 14,190 miles of pipeline, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners is just a small fraction of the total infrastructure emerging from the Gulf of Mexico.

The concentration of so many pipelines has not been good for communities around the Gulf of Mexico. Not only are spills more common in the area, the spills also tend to be larger. The environmental factors are still not fully explored, but a report from 1983 was already concerned by the oil spills which were occurring and threatening local wildlife (U.S. Minerals Management Service, 1983). Today, over 400 species are listed as at risk due to the 2010 BP Deepwater oil spill. (Heimbuch, 2011)