Oil is a very useful product that has been key in driving industrialization around the globe. For the time of its discovery, we have seen it being transported through various ways that have not be easy to do.

The challenge of transporting oil to the needed destination for resale or for use has continuously presented a big logistics challenge. 

With the many fortunes that have been realized in the transportation of oil and its products through different methods, a lot of risks tag along with the processes.

Due to the fact that it is not found all over the place, the need for its transportation to different places will always be there.

Transportation from processing facilities and refineries should be conducted efficiently and safely to take care of the cargo and prevent any accidents that could occur due to the volatile nature of oil.

Read More: Oil Transportation & Storage

1. Different Ways of Oil Transportation

As of today, oil gets transported from one place to another through a number of ways. Ideally, it is practically possible for a barrel of oil to be pumped through the desert and be loaded on a ship for transportation across the seas.

Once it reaches its destination via the sea, the oil then gets pumped again into a truck or train to the designated refinery for processing.

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us

Each of the oil transportation methods has different pros and cons especially touching on such things as risks, costs, environmental impact and costs.

There are four main types of transport for the oil industry and that includes the use of boats, trucks, rail and pipelines. The most commonly used means of transporting oil by road is by trucks, rail and pipelines.

1.1 Pipelines

Crude oil that has been collected from the source at the wellheads is usually transported to the processing plants, refineries and tankers via the use of pipelines.

oil pipeline transportation

oil pipeline transportation

  • Pros of Pipeline Transportation

There are an estimated 1.5 million miles of pipelines used for the transportation of liquid petroleum around the world. Ideally, the pipelines are the primary ways of oil distribution across the universe.

The piping installations are usually characterized by heavy cash investment. However, they provide a cost-effective and efficient way of transporting crude oil over long distances and in big volumes throughout the day and night. 

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us

Most of these pipelines are subterranean and that makes them resistant to surface obstacles and weather changes. Ideally, the pipeline technique is normally preferred because of the following key benefits that come with it:

  • Safety

The movement of oil and gas via pipelines is arguably the safest way to get the task done. The pipes are well equipped to take crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

The method is environment-friendly at the transportation stage. Most importantly, there are low rates of fatalities and injuries associated with it.  It is unlikely that someone will get hurt in the oil pipeline distribution systems.

  • Energy Efficient

The pipeline method of transportation makes use of less energy than trains and trucks. In that case, the technique leaves a considerably low carbon footprint and is generally eco-friendly.

  • Convenience

Due to the booster pumps located along the oil pipelines, pressure can effectively be maintained to maintain oil flow in the chosen direction

  • Cons of Pipeline Transportation

Even with the benefits that come with their use, the pipelines have received little support from environmentalists.

The process of their installation is considered disruptive to already existing natural environments.

Again, the issue of pipeline leaks is also of concern together with allied disasters such as the triggering of earthquakes.

Over and above all, pipelines can get corroded with time and present potential lasting issues even when not used for their initial intention.

The pipelines are also not able to serve different markets. This is for the reason that they are also costly to build and maintain. They basically are intended for the transportation of bulk oil from one point to another.

The oil gets delivered to storage tanks and other destinations where it will then be trans-shipped to other regions and markets through different vehicles.

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us


1.2 Supertankers by Sea

Ships and barges are another convenient way of transporting oil especially overseas.

There are very many barges moving oil and gas inland by the rivers too and through the seas and oceans all the way to designated refineries around the world.  

oil tanker

Oil tanker

This mode of transportation is preferred because of the following advantages:

  • Affordability

The transportation of crude oil through ship or barge is definitely among the least expensive ways of transportation. High volumes can be transported in a single trip and this largely cuts down costs of moving oil from one point to another.

  • Flexible Waterways

Sea vessels such as boats can take oil barrels via inland and coastal waterways. This increases the applicability of this mode of oil transportation in and throughout the world.

  • High Load Capacities

Tank barges and other sea vessels take high volumes of oil. Ideally, a tank barge can take 30,000 barrels.

  • Several Barges Available

There are about 275 tank barges along with integrated tug-barges provided to transport oil.

The big supertankers used in the sea today take up to 2 million barrels of oil at ago. Looking at this amount, this is more than what many medium-size companies for oil would produce on an annual basis.

These figures present substantial economies of scale in the transportation of oil. All the same, the tankers got their own drawbacks as well.

When fully loaded, tankers could weigh up to a billion pounds and that means they cannot merely dock at the port.

Owing to their size and weight, they present big risks of an ecological catastrophe in the event that one loses some substantial part of the cargo either offshore or at the sea.

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us

The construction costs of the ships are very high and would require a lot of work to be done to break-even on a single day and more especially in making a profit.

Such economics as highlighted here are a limitation to the existing customers in their efforts to ship oil to the very biggest oil companies around the world.


1.3 Rail Oil Transportation

A railway line is still an option for the transportation of oil in its crude form to refineries and processing facilities.

Initially, it was replaced by the pipeline technique after it was considered a stopgap process. However, it underwent development to become one of the popular means of oil transportation in this age.

rail oil transportation

rail oil transportation

Its applicability is due to the following reasons:

  • Affordable Set up costs

The capital costs for setting up a railway infrastructure are recoverable over a short period of time of transporting oil and gas.

  • Reduced Time of Construction

The establishment of new railway infrastructures takes a somewhat shorter time than other types of infrastructure. The lead times are usually between 12 to 18 months from the beginning to the onset of operations.

  • Fleet Resources

Operations in the railway transport can be accessed easily with an ability to get hold of a massive quantity of fleet resources such as railway cars, extra tracks, railway crews and locomotives.

  • Decreased Transportation Times

The transportation of crude oil through train has a considerably higher rate of deliveries than other means. This is due to the dedicated rail lines that don’t have traffic.

  • Quick Response to Fluctuations in the Market

Railway carriers are in a position to respond quickly to changes occurring in the marketplace. This makes it possible to adapt to the flows and ebbs in the trade of transporting oil and gas.

The commonly used alternative to oil transportation via the pipelines is through rail transportation. This is a creation of something comparable to a pipeline but on wheels.

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us

As the roads are limited when compared with other standards, a single train becomes the closer alternative to the pipeline and can take up to 100,000 barrels of oil at a reasonable cost per mile.

Extra capacity can easily be added or removed hence permitting a smooth control over the constant cost framework. All the same, there are special risks and costs that come with the rail transportation means.

In the event of accidents on the railway line, big loses can be incurred.


1.4 Tanker Trucks

These are commonly used for transporting smaller amounts of oil from remote regions to where it is needed. Ideally, an insignificant amount of oil gets transported via the road throughout the world.

The major reasons for this have been because of safety and economies of scale. Practically, a single truck can only take a third of the amount that one rail car can take. Again, it costs almost about three times more to transport a barrel per mile.

The boom in the energy production industry has led to major shifts and developments in the oil and gas industry, particularly in the area of transportation.

In order to address the needs of transporting the oil in crude form to designated places for processing, the search for efficient means of transportation has been ongoing. 

Each of these ways highlighted in here has its own merits and demerits that would determine the possibility of their use based on the existing needs and circumstances.

aluminium alloy tank trailer

Fuel tank trailers

Read More: 

Fuel tank trailer regulations – learn the key specs & operation

The Key Specs Affects How Many Liters, Size, Capacity a Fuel Tanker Hold

Learn the Oil Trailer Tanker Technology (Light Weight)

Fuel Tank Trailer Guide – Diesel, Petrol, Oil Tanker Trailers Designs & Specs

2. Learn Why Tanker Truck & Trailer Have Widespread Use in Oil Transportation

Fuel tank trailers have commonly been used in the oil and gas retail business. It is one of the common types of tank trailer you will come across on the road these days.

The trailer is commonly used in the transportation of oil and allied products. The need for transportation of fuel both for industrial and retail use promoted the building of a tank trailer of this type.

They are commonly used for transporting fuel used for standard cars as well as other vehicle types.

Fuel tank truck and trailers are applied in terminal transportation in most cases. This happens in such places as various gas stations and manufacturing centers.

They are most applicable in areas where it is not convenient to use the pipeline, in particularly in the remote areas. Typically, these tank trailers are designed with several compartments on board.  Here is why:

  • For Efficiency

A trailer that is built with various compartments can successfully be used in the transportation of various kinds of oil products at the same time.

This is particularly helpful to save the cost of transportation. A lot of fuel is saved because the many trips that would have been used to transport the different products are reduced to one.

The efficiency principle applied in here is in taking care of the inefficient and costly approach to transport each of the products independently.

These trailers have several compartments that can be used to transport various grades of oil in a single trip. A service station can take all the products required in a particular destination in just one trip.

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us

  • For stability purposes

During transportation, liquid oil gets tossed in all directions inside the tank especially when running down a slope. A large capacity fuel tank trailer will deeply be affected if the transportation will be allowed to take the cargo in one compartment.

The center of mass will get affected in such a situation hence causing an imbalance. The axle load in such a case will be affected a lot hence affecting the stability of the tank trailer.

With this setup, chances of toppling over are high that can easily lead to an accident. Huge losses can be realized in the end because of such a configuration.

However, having several compartments in place helps in managing the changes in axle load to keep the trailer in a stable condition throughout the transportation.

fuel tanker trailer

petrol tank trailer

Fuel tank trailers are designed in different shapes such as ellipse and circles keeping the height of gravity ratio balanced to ensure stable operations.

The centre of mass is also kept low to help in keeping the balanced needed for transportation at relatively sufficient speeds. Circular shapes are normally used for high-pressure transportation.

These tank trailers are either made of steel materials or aluminium alloy materials. Stainless steel fuel tank trailers provide high strength and cannot be damaged easily.

They are also affordable because of the ease of manufacturing unlike for aluminium alloy tank trailers. However, the high density means that they can take less volume compared to the aluminium fuel tank trailers.

Therefore, it is important to look into these factors when choosing a fuel tank trailer. Aluminium alloy tankers are light in weight hence can take more oil load for transportation.

Contact us, get more specs now!!

Contact us

However, aluminium alloy tankers have lower strength than steel tankers. Again, they are a little bit more expensive due to the sophisticated manufacturing processes.

Fuel tank trailers provide a faster means of delivering oil in remote places where other means such as the railway, pipeline and ship cannot reach.

This is mainly to retail destinations that need relatively small quantities of refined fuel for resale. They are also most applicable for delivery to individual clients who need fuel for manufacturing and industrial use.


3. Conclusion

In the oil and gas industry, there are different ways to transport allied products based on their form, distances to be covered, amount of oil products needed and the geographical destinations for each of the applications.

Overseas transportation has primarily been conducted through the oceans using ships and barges where it could be practically impossible to set up railway lines or pipeline networks and systems.

All the same, water transportation can also be used in inland transportation along rivers and lakes other than the coastal transportation only.

Most inland transportation of oil and its allied products is usually done through pipeline and railway means.

This is usually in applications where there are long distances to be covered particularly from crude oil sources to processing facilities and refineries.

They can also be used for transporting oil from the refineries to distribution centers and retail points. For further transportation into remote places for further retailing and customer usage, tank trailers are commonly used.

These are the different ways through which oil can be transported and based on the highlighted advantages and disadvantages of each, one can choose the path to take based on their needs.

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours

  • Thank you for your inquiry
    Our engineer will reply you in 12 hours