What are fuel pipelines used for?

Largely hidden from view, the UK is criss-crossed by a network of underground fuel pipelines transporting diesel, petrol and aviation fuel. This is a safe, secure and low impact method of moving fuel over long distances. According to the UK Petroleum Industry Association, more than 30 million tonnes of fuels are safely transported through UK pipelines every year. This takes around one million tanker journeys off our roads, reducing traffic congestion. Our pipeline control centre, staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week, uses sophisticated tools to monitor all aspects of the pipeline. If a change is detected, an automatic system sets off an alarm. If necessary, we can immediately shut down the pipeline.

Why does this pipeline need to be replaced?

Replacement of the pipeline will maintain the supply of aviation fuel for years to come. As a responsible operator, Esso is committed to safe operations that include maintaining, repairing and, where appropriate, replacing pipelines.

Replacement of the pipeline is being undertaken now to allow appropriate time for design, consultation, the Development Consent Order process and installation, whilst also maintaining the operation of the existing pipeline.

Have alternative options been considered?

Esso has considered alternative ways of transporting fuel, particularly by road. This pipeline will keep around 100 road tankers off the road every day (an estimate based on the volume of aviation fuel transferred from the Fawley Refinery to the West London Terminal via pipeline in 2015).

What is a preferred route?

We consulted on the preferred route for the replacement pipeline in autumn 2018. The preferred route followed the preferred corridor. A route is typically in the region of 20 – 30 metres wide for the installation period. The route included details of provisional order limits of the project, including the temporary working areas required for the installation of the replacement pipeline.

What is a design refinement?

To address feedback from the preferred route consultation we refined the route in some places. Some of these refinements were simple, such as moving the pipeline route from one size of a landowner’s field to the other. Others were more complex, as they have different impacts on landowners, communities or the environment. We sought the views of landowners, statutory consultees and communities on these more complex design refinements to make sure that, on balance, we have selected the most appropriate route for the replacement pipeline in these areas.

Who is Esso?

Esso is a brand of ExxonMobil, which has operated in the UK for over 120 years. In the early days ExxonMobil imported high quality lamp oil to the UK market. Today our focus on quality fuels remains, but our operations are far more extensive. Esso owns and operates the UK’s largest refinery at Fawley, which provides fuel for more than 800,000 retail customers every day at Esso-branded service stations. Our underground distribution pipeline network transports fuel from Fawley to our fuel terminals at Avonmouth, Birmingham, Hythe, Purfleet, West London and also for use at the UK’s busiest airports. ExxonMobil is one of the UK’s largest petrochemical manufacturers with major plants at Fawley, Fife and Newport. ExxonMobil also holds an interest in nearly 40 producing oil and gas fields in the UK North Sea, and a stake in the South Hook Liquefied Natural Gas plant at Milford Haven in Wales, which has the capacity to import 20 percent of the UK’s gas demand.

How can I find out more?

Please sign up to receive our e-newsletter to keep informed about project announcements. We will continue to update the information on this website and produce further information as the project goes forward.

Which company is making the application for development consent?

Esso Petroleum Company, Limited (Esso) is the owner of the current pipeline and will make the Development Consent Order application to construct and own the new pipeline.


Please note: References to “Esso” on this website refer throughout to Esso Petroleum Company, Limited and nothing on this website should be construed to override corporate separateness.