The end of the 20th century has seen some major developments to the business of pipelines worldwide. In North America and Europe the trend has been toward deregulation of the industry. In other markets the trend has been toward the use of fixed transport cost contracts between shippers and the pipeline company. The net effect of these changes is increased competition in the transport of energy with the resulting requirement to provide the lowest cost of transport. At the same time pipelines need to maintain the traditionally high levels of safety and reliability that customers, the public and regulators have been accustomed to.
The pipeline industry has responded to the challenge to reduce costs on a number of fronts. These include the areas of contracting, financing, planning, regulation, market development, and technical developments as well as many other areas. This paper will focus on technical developments that have allowed pipeline companies to reduce the cost of moving large volumes of natural gas at high pressures. Progress that the industry has made in the areas of capital cost reduction will be illustrated by an example of high pressure pipeline design. Capital costs will be compared for five system design pressures that all result in the same maximum flow rate. The optimum high-grade steel will be chosen for each pressure. This will also be compared to costs for using Composite Reinforced Line Pipe (CRLP) a new technology for the pipeline industry.