Colonial often receives questions about what we do and how we operate. Below are some of the more common questions we receive. If you can’t find an answer to your question here, or elsewhere on our website, please contact us.
Who is Colonial Pipeline?
Colonial Pipeline Company, founded in 1962, connects refineries – primarily located in the Gulf Coast – with customers and markets throughout the Southern and Eastern United States through a pipeline system that spans more than 5,500 miles. The company delivers refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, and fuel for the U.S. Military. Colonial is committed to safety and environmental stewardship across its operations.
What is the purpose of Colonial Pipeline? What do you do, exactly?
Colonial Pipeline is the largest refined products pipeline in the United States, transporting more than 100 million gallons or 2.5 million barrels per day. Colonial transports approximately 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, providing refined products to more than 50 million Americans.
Specifically, Colonial transports various grades of gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, and fuels for the U.S. military through a pipeline system. The system is connected to refineries in the Gulf Coast and in the Northeast. The majority of the system is underground, with tankage and other facilities at key receipt, storage and delivery points.
I’m planning to do a project that will require digging. How do I do this safely?
Colonial Pipeline and other pipeline and utility operators are part of the nationwide system called 8 – 1‑1. 811 provides a uniform, national phone number to access local utility location services. Individuals should call this number before digging to protect themselves and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines. For homeowners, 811 should be used prior to starting common projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, building a deck, putting in a pond or patio, and other DIY projects that involve digging. Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities may result in serious injuries, service disruptions, and costly repairs if oil, gas, electric, communications, or water and sewer lines are damaged. The nationwide service, 811, is free and can be accessed by phone or online in many states at call811.com.
I noticed something that I think could be hazardous taking place near the pipeline right-of-way. What should I do?
Colonial Pipeline relies on the help of its pipeline neighbors to help us identify potential concerns, such as digging, suspicious activity, or abnormal sights, odors, or sounds.
If you are noticing anything out of the ordinary near the pipeline: call our 24⁄7 emergency number at 800 – 926-2728. Immediately, call 9 – 1‑1 if there is a risk to the safety of you or others.
We also have a Right-of-Way Watch Reward Program that rewards landowners for reporting unsafe conditions near the pipeline.
How do you keep your pipeline operating safely?
Safety always comes first – and it’s at the foundation of everything we do at Colonial Pipeline. We have an extensive program to monitor, maintain, and promote operational excellence. This includes things like aerial and foot patrols of the right-of-way, 24⁄7 control centers, a public awareness program to prevent damage, and most notably our integrity management program, which allows us to inspect pipelines from the inside out using sophisticated tools and technology.
We meet or exceed standards set by our safety regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
How are different products and grades kept separate in the pipeline?
Different product batches are pushed through the system next to each other. The stream is always in a “turbulent flow” condition which minimizes mixing. Products are sequenced in the pipeline according to their characteristics. For example, regular unleaded gasoline may be shipped next to a batch of premium unleaded gasoline. When the flow of product is “cut” or diverted for delivery or into a storage tanks, the “cut” is made to protect the entire premium gasoline batch, thus allowing some premium to be added to the regular, unleaded gasoline. Similar steps are taken to protect distillate products such as jet fuel, Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), and home heating oil. When products with incompatible characteristics come into contact with each other, the resulting interface is defined as transmix. Transmix is stored separately and re-processed into a useful product.