Pipe Lines—Canada and Elsewhere
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 Mar 1952, p. 291-301
Horne, A.N., Speaker
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Responses to the questions: What, Why, Who, When, Where and How is a Pipe Line? A description of the Trans-Northern Pipe Line Company. Project details, ownership, methods of transportation, communications, locations of pumping stations, operations details such as how various grades of oil are moved through a pipe without mixture, with example. A description of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line, with similar details. Problems and difficulties of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line. The renaissance that oil has brought to the Arab area.
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20 Mar 1952
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
An Address by A. N. HORNE
President, Trans-Northern Pipe Line Company
Thursday, March 20th, 1952
CHAIRMAN: The Third Vice-President, Mr. John Griffin.

MR. GRIFFIN: Members and guests of The Empire Club of Canada; We are to hear an address today by Mr. A. N. Horne, President of the Trans-Northern Pipe Line Company of Toronto. Mr. Horne was born and educated in the State of Mississippi and graduated from college in Electrical Engineering. He served his country in both world wars (and between as a Reserve Officer) in the U.S. Army--in World War II on the General Staff Corps.

Most of his professional career has been spent in association with the Oil Industry, largely in connection with the design, construction and operation of pipe lines.

Despite his many achievements Mr. Home is a modest and retiring man who never blows his own, and we are fortunate that he has consented to speak to us today on some of the great projects with which he has been connected.

He has built and operated pipe lines in many parts of the world and is currently constructing one from Montreal to Toronto and Hamilton but I hope he will confirm my own impression that the most romantic of these endeavours was the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line which extends over a thousand miles from the Persian Gulf through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

It is a great pleasure to present to you A. N. Horne--"Mr. Pipe Line".

MR. HORNE: The subject for today is "Pipe Lines--Canada and Elsewhere".

Pipe Lines play a tremendous part in our daily lives. Since they are, for the most part, underground and out of sight, it is difficult for the average person to realize their importance to present day economies--local, national and international.

This subject is so vast in all its ramifications that it will be possible today only to touch a few high spots.

Most subjects under discussion or examination can be pretty well covered under these six headings--"What, Why, Who, When, Where, and How".

Therefore "WHAT" is a Pipe Line?

The classic answer to this is: "A pipe line is a long hole with a piece of steel wrapped around it, built by a bunch of queer people from Oklahoma and Texas who haven't got sense enough to quit work until the job is done, so they can hurry along to see what is on the other side of the next hill."

For purpose of this discussion, we will principally consider pipe lines as found in the Oil and Gas Industry.

"WHY" is a Pipe Line?

In the Oil and Gas Industry, the function of a pipe line is the transportation of Power and Energy.

A hard-headed Banker recently said: "One of the acid tests of transportation efficiency is financial; how cheaply can it do the job, compared with its competition?"

A Gas Pipe Line Executive said that his studies revealed that the most efficient method of transportation of a kilowatt hour of energy is that of oil by high pressure, large diameter pipe lines (with the exception of tanker transportation where water is available); that the next most efficient method of transporting a unit of energy is by the transportation of 1000 BTU of natural gas by high pressure, large diameter pipe lines.

Pipe Lines are specialized carriers, and uni-directional. That is, they transport only oil (or its liquid products) and natural gas from the wells to the refinery, thence to market. However, their versatility, efficiency and economy are indispensable to our modern way of life.

While a pipe line is the only means of transporting natural gas, it is almost unlimited in its ability to handle the products refined from Crude Oil. As many as 32 different refined products have been moved through a single pipe line, although the bulk of products consists mainly of gasolenes, kerosenes, heating oils, diesel oils, and stove oils.

"WHO" is a Pipe Line?

A natural question to business men is "Who builds, owns and operates pipe lines?" and the basic answer is: "The Oil and Gas Industry".

A pipe line system is usually a part of an integrated oil company--Production, Transportation, Refining, Marketing. It may be wholly owned by one company, or it may be a combination of owners. However, in the United States, oil lines usually operate as Common Carriers in Interstate Commerce, under regulation of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

A large trunk line gas system may not have its own gas production, and may not deal directly with the ultimate consumer. In this case, the company purchases gas from the producer (necessarily on long term contract), transports and delivers to separate marketing companies in many cities which distribute to the Consumers.

During World War II, War Emergency Pipe Lines (the so-called "Big Inch" and "Little Big Inch" lines) proved the feasibility and economics of large diameter pipe lines for transporting large volumes of liquids for great distances.

The trend since that time has, therefore, been toward large diameter lines,

"WHEN" is a Pipe Line?

The basic law of "Supply and Demand" in conjunction with "Competition is the Life of Trade" dictates "When" a pipe line should be built.

As new or expanded markets develop, and as old sources of production decline, it is necessary to explore and develop new production areas. Thus, it is necessary to build or extend pipe lines to new sources, and to new or expanded market areas.

A pipe line, therefore, is built when the economic need therefore is justified on sound business principles.

"WHERE" is a Pipe Line?

Nowadays, pipe lines used by the Oil and Gas Industry may be found in almost any part of the world.

At the end of 1950, statistics show:
Total Number of Crude Oil Wells in
the Principal Areas of the World over 500,000
Total Number of Refineries 688
Daily Crude Runs 11,000,000 bbls.
Total Miles of Pipe Lines
-Gas 388,000 mi.
-Oil 210,000 "
-Products 23,000 "

In the U.S. alone, construction totaled 16,000 miles in 1950, and 12,000 miles in 1951.

Canada had a total last year of 1,600 miles of oil lines and over a thousand miles of gas lines.

Construction is either under way or getting started very soon on some 600 miles of products lines and 750 miles of Crude Oil lines.

Primarily, a pipe line is designed as a means of transportation from the source of production directly to the refinery or Consumer Market. However, Oil and Products lines are increasingly used as a link or segment of a combination transportation system. Example--Crude Oil from wells along the Persian Gulf in Saudi Arabia first moves by pipe line across the desert to the Mediterranean, thence by tank ship to Portland, Maine, again by pipe line to Montreal. From Montreal the refined products will move through a pipe line now being constructed to Toronto and Hamilton, with some portion again trans-shipped by truck, rail and water to ultimate consuming areas.

"HOW" is a Pipe Line?

"How" do we go about designing and construction of a pipe line?

We find 11 basic steps necessary from conception to completion, outlined as follows:

Step 1-Transportation Analysis, Aerial Photography, Ground Surveying; Step 2-Design, Specifications, Bids; Step 3-Obtain Right of Way, Clearing; Step 4-Pipe Handling and Stringing; Step 5-Ditchings, Crossings; Step 6-Bending Operations; Step 7-Welding, PipeGang Operations; Step 8-Cleaning and Priming, Coating and Wrapping; Step 9-Lowering Into Trench, Backfilling, Testing, and Cleaning Up; Step 10-Pumping and Compressing Stations; Step 11-Pipe Line Facilities and Service; Communications; Storage and Terminals; Metering and Control; Maintenance.

Trans-Northern Pipe Line Company

This project is a 400 mile, 10" Refined Oil Products Pipe Line System from Montreal to Toronto and Hamilton, with a 42-mile, 6" branch line from near Cornwall to Ottawa.

It is owned by three local Canadian Companies--Shell, British American, and McColl-Frontenac, and is designed to serve as a dependable, daily, year-round transportation outlet for their three refineries at Montreal, and one at Clarkson, with terminals at Cornwall, Ottawa, Prescott, Brockville, Kingston, Port Hope, Belleville, Toronto, and Hamilton.

The present method of transport is by rail, tank ship and tank truck. This method requires building up huge stocks of products at refineries and terminals to carry over the 5 months closed shipping season each year, supplemented by tank car movements. The initial design capacity of this system is 40,000 barrels per day, with 4 pumping stations. With addition of 4 intermediate stations, the capacity can be increased to 60,000 barrels per day.

Pumping stations initially will be located at Montreal, Farran's Point (near Cornwall), Kingston and Trenton. These stations will be electric motor driven centrifugal pumps. Cottages will be provided at these locations for the station operators.

Communications between all points will be teletype, for dispatching and routine matters.

Main office is located at Toronto, and an Operations and Maintenance Headquarters will be established at Kingston.

It is planned to move as many as 19 different refined products through this line--such as the several grades of gasoline, including Aviation Gas, Kerosene, Light and Medium Fuel Oil, Stove Oil, Diesel Fuel, Mineral Spirits, Naphthas, Rubber solvents, Propane, Jet Fuel, etc.

How do we move these various grades through a pipe line without mixture?

First a schedule is arranged whereby related products are grouped in such sequence that a slight amount of mixture as between two products is inconsequential, as between kerosene and diesel oil. A cycle of operations is set up whereby a quantity of each of these products is pumped into the line in sequence, or one grade following another. The quantity of each product pumped during a cycle is calculated to be sufficient for a two-week supply, or larger, at each terminal, but usually a minimum of 5,000 barrels of any one product for a 10" line. Once pumping is started, it must be continued at a certain minimum rate of flow--fast enough to prevent mixture of the products.

Example--Begin at Montreal by pumping into the line 25,000 barrels of fuel oil, which may be the heaviest or lowest grade product. This quantity is termed a "slug" or "batch" or "tender". This number of barrels is equivalent to a little more than a half day of pumping, and would fill the line for 75 miles. This slug is then followed successively by varying quantities of Diesel Fuel, Kerosene, other intermediate products, ordinary grade Gasolene, high octane, premium and Aviation Gasolenes, each succeeding product pushing the others on ahead in the line. The order in the cycle in then reversed, going back down the scale to the lowest grade of product. This completes the cycle.

As each product reaches a terminal, a portion is drawn off into appropriate tankage, or, any one product may move all the way through to tankage at the end of the line.

As these slugs move along the line, a small amount of mixture may occur at the interface between any two adjacent grades in the line. Mixture is a function of time and distance and pumping rate. In a movement from Montreal, the amount of mixture at the end of the line may be equivalent to one-half to one mile of line fill, or possibly 150 to 300 barrels.

Under proper control, the time of arrival of an interface, or change of one grade to the next, is carefully calculated from the pumping rate, meter readings, and by instruments which accurately record changes in characteristics.

At the end of the line, the small amount of mixture of two products can be blended proportionately back into the products without disturbing the characteristics of either, or otherwise treated and disposed of. These controls are very rigid, exact,--even more so than those of the manufacturer, because samples are taken from every batch, every tank, and every movement, and checked in the laboratory.

This is very similar to the makeup of a freight train in Montreal, scheduled for Hamilton, each car being loaded with only one commodity--no mixed cars. Assume that this train then starts out on a non-stop run, and that one or more carloads of any one or more commodities can be sidetracked at any or all stations along the route without stopping the train.


Before coming to Canada last year, I was on a most interesting assignment in the Middle East. This was the construction of Trans-Arabian Pipe Line--a 30 and 31" crude oil pipe line from the Persian Gulf, 1,083 miles across Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, to the old historic City of Sidon, on the Mediterranean.

In the planning and execution of this job, I had the experience of personal contact and visits with Kings, Presidents, Dictators, Prime Ministers, Industrialists, Sheikhs, Church Functionaries, and so on down the line to the Bedouin in the desert. I found all of these people uniformly friendly and co-operative, although sharp traders--which has been their main means of existence for centuries.

The justification for this 235 million dollar project was the fact that it saved 3,500 miles of ocean travel by tank ships--some 3 weeks of travel time, for movement of 320,000 barrels of crude oil per day to world markets, from an area that is presently producing nearly one million barrels per day.

Development of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line project, popularly called Tapline, required several years of planning, engineering study, route reconnaissance, and lengthy negotiations with the four nations, before permission to construct was finally obtained.

In the summer of 1947 Tapline started, from scratch, to lay the biggest pipe line ever laid across one of the most ominous regions of the world. Engineers had drawn a line on a map. It followed a great circle route from a place which might have been called Nowhere on the Persian Gulf to the ancient Biblical city of Sidon in Lebanon above the Mediterranean.

The route crosses heavy sand dune country only on its first hundred miles on the east end. West thereof for 750 miles it crosses absolutely barren desert land to the Jordan frontier. The only noticeable surface features are occasional dry "wadis" where surface water flows or stands for a few days, and sometimes only for hours, after rain showers. Average rainfall is only three inches per year. Normally no rain falls from April to November inclusive.

That was the sort of terrain over which it had been decided to lay the world's greatest pipe line. Add to those features the fact that summer temperature rises to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity below seven per cent. In such a climate a man drinks two gallons of water a day, metal surfaces become too hot to touch with the bare hand.

Over part of the route across the tilted desert there are high sand dunes which constantly "travel" under the buffeting of the fiery winds from the north.

For one thing, the American personnel, like the American machinery and materials, had to be flown or sent by ship halfway round the world. There was no other course to follow for materials and machines, but there was a vast pool of Arab personnel to draw from more or less on the spot.

The line was to be laid right through the heart of the Moslem world, which long had been closed to non-Moslems, and it seemed only just that the Arabs themselves should play as large a role as possible in the project that was to change their manner of life in so many ways.

There were two main difficulties, language and inexperience. But few of them spoke even a few words of English, and only a handful of Americans spoke any Arabic.

The second difficulty was training, not merely the training of hands to do unaccustomed tasks but really the making over of the whole way of life of thousands of people. The Arabs' living conditions, hard and primitive, had changed little since the days of the Prophet. Now suddenly they were face to face with the mysterious ways of a technological civilization.

Greatest work delay due to the difference in religions occurs during the Moslem month of Ramadan. For that entire month the devout neither eat nor drink between sunrise and sunset. When Ramadan falls in the hot season, work without drinking water becomes a torture no man can stand through a full day. And so for that period Tapline reduced its work day to six hours. But when work was pressing, the Arabs made no objection to returning to work in the cool of the evening.

There was no water well, no oasis, anywhere within reach of the line from the Persian Gulf to the frontier of Lebanon. And each Tapline worker needed two gallons of water a day, with copious dosing of salt tablets, just to keep going. There were thousands of such men and. water trucking became a major problem demanding some early solution. So Tapline began drilling wells.

It took two years to drill all those 40 wells, but the expected problem they created manifested itself when the first brackish water was pumped up to the surface. Apparently every Bedouin in Arabia heard about it immediately.

Since earliest antiquity hundreds of thousands of Bedouin nomads have ranged all over the vast desert lands southwest of Tapline's route. Each March or April they have migrated 300 miles or more north-eastward to grazing lands in the Euphrates Valley. Then in October or November there would be a return migration for winter grazing on the desert. During those hard migrations a large percentage of the herds died, but that was the only known way of life on the desert and it was philosophically accepted.

It was so accepted until Tapline's first water well came in. Then, as though word had spread across the desert by mental telepathy, the horizon darkened with the converging tribes. They made their camps by the water.

As far back as a year ago a rough count indicated that one well alone was supplying water to 12,000 Bedouin, 20,000 camels, and 40,000 fat-tailed sheep and goats. It was estimated that during the summer of 1950 Tapline was supplying free water, all along the line, to more than 150,000 camels and perhaps double that number of sheep and goats. Some 100,000 Bedouins had by that time set up camp around the water holes. There are water tanks at each pumping station and troughs have been erected to facilitate the watering of livestock. It is not unusual to see several thousand animals lined up waiting their turns at these troughs.

Next to the pipe itself, perhaps the greatest single item was automotive equipment. The desert fleet of cars and trucks consisted of more than 1,500 units.

These included 150 of the giant 50-ton truck-tractors for hauling the pipe itself, 120 ten-ton trucks, 500 trailers, 80 refrigerator trucks and trailers for transporting perishable foods, 60 fuel and water trucks, 12 lunch-serving trailers, 40 buses of 60-passenger capacity, 10 sixty-passenger trailers, and some 400 other vehicles including passenger cars, station wagons, jeeps and a variety of other types.

And even all this was in addition to earth-handling machines, bull-dozers, Caterpillars, ditchers, graders and so on almost without end.

The great automotive fleet constantly moving over the pipe line highway was augmented by airplanes. They operated between the two terminals and the six major pumping stations as they were being constructed.

Because of Tapline's great project, the whole way of life is going to change for hundreds of thousands of people. The scenes of mankind's earliest civilization were in the Middle East. Within that region lay the Garden of Eden, the ancient cities of Ur, Nineveh and Babylon, and later the illustrious Baghdad. But century after century of decline followed the Mongol conquest in the 13th Century.

Now, oil has brought a renaissance. Thousands of Arabs have learned western trades and tasted western civilization. Hundreds of thousands will be affected to larger or smaller degree by the activity of Tapline across the deserts of the nomads.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. John Collingwood Reade.

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Pipe Lines—Canada and Elsewhere

Responses to the questions: What, Why, Who, When, Where and How is a Pipe Line? A description of the Trans-Northern Pipe Line Company. Project details, ownership, methods of transportation, communications, locations of pumping stations, operations details such as how various grades of oil are moved through a pipe without mixture, with example. A description of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line, with similar details. Problems and difficulties of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line. The renaissance that oil has brought to the Arab area.