Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Why are you building this pipeline?

The region remains one of the only major population areas in the country not served by a direct pipeline connection for delivery of refined products from refining centers to consumers, including gasoline and home heating oil. The Pilgrim Pipeline provides a safer and more environmentally sound alternative to the region’s current reliance on river barges for the delivery of oil and refined products.

What are the benefits of the pipeline?

The Pilgrim Pipeline will create a safer and more secure means to transport oil and petroleum products, and limiting the amount of petroleum products moving across docks. The pipeline will reducing greenhouse gas emissions (compared to current transportation modes used in New Jersey and New York) and provide consumers and businesses with a more stable supply of gasoline, heating oil and other refined petroleum products. Additionally, the pipeline will address supply disruptions and price spikes that occur during severe weather conditions and catastrophic events.

What is the pipeline route?

The 178-mile parallel underground pipelines will run between supply and distribution terminals in Albany and Linden, New Jersey.

Is the pipeline buried or above ground?

The pipelines would be buried.

In accordance with federal regulations, the pipeline must have at least three feet of cover over the top of the pipeline in areas with standard soil characteristics. In areas of bedrock, the minimum depth of cover is two feet. The goal is to bury the pipeline below the frost line.

How big is the pipeline diameter?

Preliminary plans call for the pipelines to have a diameter of no more than 24 inches. There are several configurations of the system being analyzed and the actual sizing has not been finalized.

What will the pipeline carry?

200,000 barrels of refined petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, home heating oil and jet fuel per day from NY Harbor to points north; and 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day southbound from Albany terminals to delivery points in New Jersey.

Why can’t you tell me the exact route of the pipeline?

This project is still in its preliminary stages and we are currently determining the most appropriate route. We can say that our goal is to have more than 90% of the pipeline’s project’s proposed route follow pre-existing rights-of-way, for the most part derived from existing utility routes.

Permits and Construction

What permits are required?

The type of permits that are needed will be determined by the route. Because it is an oil pipeline, the necessary permits will be acquired from state agencies rather than the federal government’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, the pipeline will be constructed in accordance with federal guidelines to ensure the project meets the highest standards of safety.

When will you submit permit applications in New Jersey and New York?

We hope to submit permits in New Jersey by the end of the year and begin the New York submission process at approximately the same time.

Will you be doing an environmental study?

Yes. We are conducting an environmental impact study for the entire route, which is required as part of the permitting process.

What is the estimated cost of the project?

We estimate costs to be between $900 million and $1 billion.

Will taxpayers be funding this project?

No. This project is developed using private financing.

When will construction begin?

We do not have a time frame as this depends on finalizing the route and the permitting and construction process.

How long will construction take to complete?

We estimate that it would take approximately one construction season to complete the pipeline once construction starts.

How many construction jobs will this project create?

We estimate that the project will create 2,000 construction jobs.

Will these jobs be union jobs?


Pipeline Safety

How are today’s pipelines any safer than older pipelines?

The Pilgrim Pipeline will be built using the most advanced pipeline technologies. Today’s state-of-the-art pipelines are by far the most efficient means of transporting critical fuels. Post-1990 technological advancements include:

  • Improvements in anti-corrosion coating and testing
  • Deeper installation with “bored crossings” under highways and rivers
  • Evolved “in-line” inspection tools to locate corrosion at early stages
  • Refinement of specialty pipelines for use in extreme environments
  • Improved welding and “jointing” methods
  • Improvement in steel construction itself means superior quality materials
  • Specialty epoxy coatings further enhance durability and resilience

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s own statistics make it clear that pipelines are the safest mode for transporting oil and petroleum products.

How disruptive will the construction be along the pipeline route?

The footprint of the pipeline itself is only about 5½ feet. The pipeline will be built almost exclusively along existing rights-of-way minimizing disruption to citizens in both New York and New Jersey, and this is the most environmentally sound, safest and least disruptive approach to this project.

What happens in case of an emergency?

Federal law requires that emergency response plans be filed and approved in advance of the pipeline becoming operational. These emergency plans contain detailed response protocols. Pilgrim works with local emergency responders before the pipeline is up and running to ensure that they know all the characteristics of the pipeline locally, including where exactly the line runs, the location of valves or other items, etc. Beyond that, the pipeline’s automatic pressure sensors close all valves throughout the entirety of the route if a leak occurs, ensuring that operations shut down immediately in the event of any incident or unexplained drop in pressure. In addition, pipeline incidents must be reported to the Department of Transportation and the National Response Center within one hour, and a federal response team is required to be on site within 24 hours.

How far apart are the safety shut off valves?

The pipeline’s operating system will have pressure sensitive block valves that would automatically shut down all sections of the line in the event that there is any loss of pressure. Federal law requires shut-off valves to be placed at a maximum of every 10 miles. We anticipate that shut-off valves will be placed even closer together in sensitive areas. For example, where the pipeline is running under a river, shut-off valves would be placed on either side of the river. We can provide more information on the placement of shut off valves once we finalize the route and submit permits.

Myths and Facts

Myth: The Pilgrim Pipeline is the largest of its kind.

Fact: The proposed pipeline is substantially smaller than other, more well-known pipelines. Preliminary plans call for our pipelines to have a diameter of no more than 24 inches. In comparison, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has a diameter of 48 inches, and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would have a diameter of 36 inches. The largest existing pipeline in Northern New Jersey, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, has a diameter of 32 inches.

Myth: If I receive a letter from a Pilgrim Pipeline surveyor asking to survey my land, that means the pipeline could be coming right through my property.

Fact: Pilgrim is proposing to have the overwhelming majority of the projected pipeline route run along existing rights of way. In New York, as it heads south from Albany, the pipeline would run along the New York State Thruway within the existing highway easement. Landowners on either side of the Thruway may receive survey letters per NY state regulations requiring land adjacent to the proposed route to be reviewed for a variety of reasons, including environmental, archeological, etc. – a standard requirement for permit applications. The same is true of New Jersey, where the vast majority of the route would run along existing utility rights of way, and surveys must be conducted per New Jersey state regulations that mandate a standard land review requirement for permits. Depending on local geography, the range of review in both states is between 50 to 300 feet to either side of the centerline, which is why property owners receive survey requests. The footprint of the pipeline itself is only about 5 and ½ feet.

Myth: Building the pipeline would increase the amount of crude oil produced by hydraulic fracturing that is transported in the New York and New Jersey region.

Fact: There would be no appreciable increase in the volume of crude oil transported between supply and distribution terminals in Albany and in Linden, whether originally produced by hydraulic fracturing techniques or any other production mode. The volume of crude oil is based on demand, and the demand in the New York and New Jersey region has been fairly steady for years. The only variable is the method of transportation between the two points. Currently, more than three billion gallons of oil are shipped down the Hudson each year, mainly by barge, and the same amount of refined product are transported north up the Hudson each year, also primarily by barge. The remaining product is transported by train. The Pilgrim Pipeline will transport 400,000 barrels of petroleum products per day, providing a safe and reliable means of transportation to meet the region’s critical energy needs.

Myth: The crude oil transported to refineries is a serious hazard because it is volatile and could lead to explosions.

Fact: There are zero recorded instances of crude oil exploding while being transported via pipeline in the United States. The differing levels of volatility inherent to different types of crude are rendered moot during pipeline transportation, as there is no air pressure or jostling that occurs inside a pipeline – the necessary factors for an explosion to take place. Bakken oil is already being transported between Albany and Linden by river barge and train; Pilgrim would transport this same oil by pipeline, the safest mode of transportation for these energy products.

Myth: The pipeline would significantly increase the likelihood of an oil spill in the Hudson Valley area that would damage the surrounding environment.

Fact: Pipelines are by far the safest and most efficient means of transporting crude oil and refined products. In fact, according to U.S. government statistics, the spill risk for barges and trains is roughly seven times greater than that of pipelines – which may in part account for the Center for Biological Diversity’s July 2014 lawsuit filed against the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding an allegedly inadequate oil spill response plan on the Hudson.

Myth: Constructing the pipeline would harm the environment and go through residential neighborhoods.

Fact: The environmental impact of constructing the pipeline would be minimal. The vast majority of the project’s proposed route follows pre-existing rights-of-way, for the most part derived from existing utility routes. Construction of the pipeline is governed by federal government standards that contain detailed and strict requirements regarding the type of pipe and materials used in construction. The pipeline will be built underground using some of the most advanced drilling techniques to ensure that construction is done quickly and with minimal disruption to the surrounding area. In addition, by reducing river congestion caused by barges and replacing hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil currently crossing the docks in New Jersey, the pipeline would produce far less emissions than the current barge traffic, producing a net air quality benefit to the region.

Myth: The pipeline would endanger water supplies because it’s slated to pass through the Highlands.

Fact: There are already 35,000 miles of underground oil and natural gas pipelines under New Jersey.
The Highlands region is no exception: it is already home to a major natural gas pipeline, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline. In addition, special Highlands area requirements call for a range of top-flight environmental benchmarks and analyses to be cleared before pursuing projects like Pilgrim – further ensuring the continued preservation of this treasured region.

Myth: Investments in alternative energy such as solar and wind is a better way to meet the region’s energy demands.

Fact: Investments in alternative energy and constructing a safer, more environmentally friendly and efficient oil pipeline is not an either/or proposition. The fact is that the region’s consumers and businesses will need to rely on oil and other fossil fuels for the foreseeable future while new alternative energy sources are developed. Investing in a wind farm is not going to help New Jersey or New York consumers and businesses when a major weather event such as Hurricane Sandy causes major shortages of critical fuels – just when they are needed most – creating service disruptions and price spikes that adversely impact consumers and businesses.

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