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South and Central America

Steep, mountainous terrain and rainforest has not stopped South and Central America from developing an extensive network of transmission pipelines.

Mountains can present various challenges for pipelines. Its topography often involves steep slopes and river and lake crossings. Its geology can raise issues for both construction and operation, with hard rock, wet or frozen ground conditions, earthquake and fault zones, and erosions and landslides not uncommon.

An example of the region’s innovation in engineering and design pipelines in tough terrain is the 408 km Peru LNG Pipeline, which traverses both coastal desert and the Andean highlands. This pipeline climbs mountain to an altitude of over 4,901 m above sea level.

Common issues experienced when constructing pipeline through rainforest include frequent, heavy rain and extensive underground root systems some of the common issues faced. However, good planning and careful equipment selection can result in pipeline success.

Some major pipelines in the region include:
  • The Transportadora de Gas del Sur (TGS) pipeline system, which is 8,627 km long and connects the Neuquén, San Jorge and Austral basins to the main consumption centres of southern Argentina, including the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the Greater Buenos Aires area;
  • Bolivia’s natural gas pipeline network, which is split into two sections with the 1,271 km northern section connecting La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz with gas fields in the Chapare region, and the 1,770 km southern section connecting Sucre, Potosi and Tariji with gas fields in the Gan Chaco region, linking to the Yacimientos – Bolivian Gulf Pipeline and the Bolivia – Brazil Pipeline; and,
  • The 5,000 km National Unification Gas Pipeline (GASUN Pipeline) in Brazil, which connects the Bolivia – Brazil Pipeline with the northern Amazon and the northeast states allowing transportation of Bolivian gas into these regions.

Shorter pipeline infrastructure also extends through Central America, such as the 131 km Transisthmian (or Trans-Panama) Pipeline which transports oil from the Pacific Oil Terminal at Charco Azul, near Puerto Armuelles in Chiriqui, Panama, to the Atlantic Oil Terminal at Chiriqui Grande, located in the Caribbean of Panama.

The main companies involved with the pipeline systems in this region include Petrobras, TGS and Empresa de Petroleos de Colombia (EcoPetrol).
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