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In summary, natural gas pipeline development in the United States has increased in recent years as a result of surging production from unconventional gas reservoirs. These pipelines provide a critical link between areas where natural gas is produced and end users. Regulatory oversight of pipeline construction and operation is handled by a variety of state and federal agencies depending on the system. For instance most gas transmission projects are regulated at the federal level while local systems, such as most natural gas gathering and distribution pipelines, are regulated by the states.
Pipelines are constructed in an assembly line fashion with the operator or subcontractor moving across the landscape performing tasks such as clearing the land, digging a trench, stringing pipe sections and welding the sections together. The process is completed when the pipe is placed underground and the site is revegetated and reclaimed.
The easement agreement or pipeline right-of-way contract between the landowner and the pipeline operator details nearly all of the terms and conditions of pipeline construction and operation on the property. With that in mind it is critical for landowners to understand the contract, negotiate for the best terms possible, and have the contract reviewed by an experienced oil and gas attorney prior to signing.
While pipeline incidents are rare, they do occur and can have catastrophic consequences. To ensure the efficient and safe operation of natural gas pipelines, pipeline operators routinely inspect their pipelines for corrosion and defects using a variety of inspection techniques. Inspections are intended to identify areas of corrosion or other conditions within the pipeline prior to failure so that they can be repaired.