Buoyed by record profits, the oil industry is developing 24,166 km of new oil pipelines—enough to stretch nearly two-thirds around Earth— of which 10,351 km of which are already under construction, according to new data from Global Energy Monitor (GEM).
The oil pipeline build-out is dramatically at odds with efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 ºC or 2.0 ºC and represents a stranded asset risk of up to USD 75.4 billion for project developers, GEM estimates, as the world increasingly transitions from oil and gas to renewables.
The United States is tied for the most new pipeline capacity by length under development. The U.S. has 2,829 km costing an estimated USD 7.9 billion being developed, the majority of which is in the Permian Basin.
Tied for first with the U.S. is India with 2,824 km of new oil pipelines in development, costing an estimated USD 4.0 billion. The third-biggest developer is China 2,533 km costing an estimated USD 4.2 billion.
Facing boycotts by the EU and U.S. over its war on Ukraine, Russia is developing 2,051 km of new pipelines costing an estimated USD 4.0 billion, with an eye to replacing these lost exports with new exports to India and China.
GEM’s data finds several European countries still invested in Russian oil projects, despite these boycotts: the 1,600 km proposed Vostok Oil Pipeline counts the Dutch MME and Swiss trading company Vitol among its owners, and shareholders in the the Caspian Pipeline include subsidiaries of U.S.-based ExxonMobil and Shell, UK-based BP and BG Overseas Holdings Ltd, and Italy-based Eni SpA.
Regionally, Sub-Saharan Africa leads the world in planned development, with 1,950 km of oil pipelines under construction and an additional 4,540 km proposed.
Poor disclosure of barrels-per-day (bpd) capacity is hampering attempts to measure the environmental impact of new oil pipelines. For pipelines for which GEM has capacity data–66% of the total in its database–pipelines under construction would add about 8.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil transmission capacity, and projects that are in pre-construction would add an additional 21.8 million bpd. Together these additional capacities would generate 4.61 billion tonnes of CO2 annually.