Pipelines: They’re conduits for transporting goods long distances and without them, today’s industries would be drastically different. As previously noted, the first successful oil pipeline was actually constructed in 1865 and caught the ire of teamster wagon drivers who saw their monopoly on oil transportation quickly slipping away. However, much has changed since then.

Modern pipeline construction is even more impressive. Some of today’s most successful lines stretch mind-blowing distances and across remote terrains that even yesterday’s most adventurous pioneers would have been hesitant to cross. Needless to say, such intricacy requires a careful approach to installation – necessitating the stabilization of heavy construction equipment through the use of components like timber mats.

So just how important are today’s pipelines to the industries they serve? For a better understanding, here’s a look at 3 of the most important:

Trans-Alaska Pipeline
Although interest in constructing the pipeline began earlier, the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was expedited after the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exploring Countries imposed an oil embargo against the United States. This was due to the country’s support of ally Israel during the Yom Kippur War – the embargo itself contributing significantly to the oil crises of 1973. By 1977, the pipeline had shipped its first barrel of oil and soon after, began full production. Today the pipeline has transported 16 billion barrels of oil across 800 miles of rugged terrain stretching from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska.

Keystone Pipeline
While the Trans-Alaska Pipeline may be one of the best known, it’s hardly the longest. Currently stretching 2,147 miles between Alberta, Canada and Illinois, construction began in 2008. Keystone transports crude oil to a number of pumping stations within the states. While a number construction phases have already been complete, future expansion of the project is in doubt as authorization of what’s known as the “Keystone XL” phase has faced gridlock in congress due to environmental concerns. Nonetheless, the pipeline plays an important role in today’s crude oil industry.

Enbridge Pipeline System
One of the oldest pipelines still in operation is the Enbridge Pipeline System. Construction began back in 1950 with the most recent line having been added in 2010. Stretching across parts of Edmonton and passing alongside the north U.S., Enbridge delivers crude oil to key refineries across the states and Canada. Main parts of the system transport an impressive 1.4 million barrels a day.

With proposals for the construction of new pipelines and expansions in the works, these lines will surely remain an important part of the oil industry long into the future.