How do I find pipeline maps?

Finding pipeline maps can be challenging, but there are a few key strategies you can use to locate them. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the top approaches for finding pipeline maps and data as a homeowner, business owner, or researcher.

Check with Local Utility Companies

The best place to start your search for pipeline maps is by contacting your local utility companies directly. Gas, oil, and other pipeline operators are required to provide maps and infrastructure information to the public upon request in most areas.

To find the right company to contact, you’ll need to know what types of pipelines run through your property or area of interest. Natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines are the most common. Here are tips for identifying and contacting the right pipeline company:

  • For natural gas pipelines, contact your natural gas utility or the local distribution company. Their customer service team can provide pipeline maps.
  • For hazardous liquid pipelines like oil, gasoline, or chemicals – contact the specific company operating pipelines in your area. Some major operators include Colonial Pipeline, Plantation Pipeline, and Enbridge.
  • Use the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) online map viewer to preliminarily identify companies operating nearby pipelines.
  • Call 811 – the nationwide Call Before You Dig number – to be connected to pipeline operators in your area who can provide maps.
  • When contacting companies, be specific about the address or geographical area you need a map for.

Pipeline companies are required to provide you with a map of their infrastructure on your property or in your area. This is your best source for detailed, up-to-date pipeline maps.

Utilize Online Pipeline Map Tools

Several government agencies and industry groups maintain free online pipeline map tools that anyone can access:

  • National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) – The NPMS provides public map viewers with the general location of natural gas transmission and hazardous liquid trunk lines. However, the available data on pipeline locations may not be fully detailed or up-to-date. Still, the NPMS map viewer can provide a good starting point for identifying possible nearby pipelines.
  • State Pipeline Safety Programs – Many states maintain their own pipeline mapping tools that can provide more detailed data than the NPMS. For example, the Railroad Commission of Texas offers a Pipeline Safety Public Viewer. Contact your state energy regulator to inquire about available pipeline maps.
  • Pipeline Association Mapping Tools – Industry associations like the Pipeline Safety Trust offer map viewers and tools designed for public education. However, they may not offer property-specific pipeline location information.

While online maps from government agencies and industry groups are helpful, they have notable limitations:

  • The available data on pipeline locations is not comprehensive and may be outdated.
  • The map interfaces often lack the functionality to search for a specific property or zoom in on a distinct geographical area.
  • They only include transmission pipelines under the agency or association’s jurisdiction – smaller distribution pipelines are often excluded.

So while these online viewers offer a starting point, you’ll need to follow up directly with pipeline companies to get complete, up-to-date map information for a property or local area.

Search Property Records and Deeds

If you’re looking for pipeline maps for a specific property, searching property records and land deeds can uncover helpful information:

  • Pipeline easements granted to operators are often recorded on property deeds when installed. The easement documentation may include detailed survey maps.
  • Older properties can have obsolete pipeline infrastructure that is still documented. Review all archived deeds and transaction records for mentions of pipelines.
  • Title companies also routinely review pipeline easements and rights-of-way during transactions. Contact your title company for related records.
  • County clerk’s offices maintain real estate records like deeds and land surveys. Visit in person or contact them to inquire about available pipeline maps or records for your property.

Depending on the age of your property and area, there may be no pipeline documentation in the deed and title records. But for older properties with possible remnant pipelines, a title search can uncover helpful mapping details not available elsewhere.

Commission an Independent Land Survey

If you need highly precise pipeline mapping for a property, consider commissioning an independent land survey. A land surveyor can create an accurate map of your property boundaries and all infrastructure located on the land, including any buried pipelines.

Steps for commissioning a pipeline survey:

  1. Research and choose a registered land surveyor in your area.
  2. Meet with the surveyor to discuss your property and mapping needs.
  3. Walk the property so the surveyor can visually inspect for any indicators of pipelines like marked rights-of-way or vent pipes.
  4. Grant the surveyor access to the property to collect data. Underground metal detection and ground-penetrating radar may be used.
  5. Review the finished survey and request any revisions. The final survey drawing will accurately map any located pipelines.

A professional land survey with pipeline mapping can provide the highest level of accuracy. However, it also involves greater time and expense. Weigh the costs against your specific need – like determining safe building locations on your land. For many purposes, pipeline company maps may provide sufficient accuracy at a lower cost.

Search Online Real Estate Listings

When purchasing a home or land, you can uncover clues about possible pipelines through the real estate listing:

  • Listing descriptions often mention pipeline easements if they cross the property. This should prompt you to investigate further.
  • Check all listing photos closely for any signs of pipelines, vent markers, or rights-of-way.
  • If purchasing through an agent, ask specific questions about any pipelines they are aware of on the property.
  • Request the seller’s disclosure for any documentation on pipelines.
  • Drive by the property to look for physical signs of pipelines.

While real estate listings provide limited pipeline information, they can help identify properties warranting deeper research. Make sure to follow up with pipeline operators directly to obtain actual maps.

Searching Public Records

Government agencies maintain various public records that may mention pipeline locations:

  • State environmental agency records – Agencies that oversee environmental reviews for construction projects near pipelines sometimes retain documents referencing pipeline locations.
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) records – The DOT Office of Pipeline Safety maintains safety and inspection records of major pipeline operators, which occasionally include location maps.
  • Local government zoning, planning, and tax records – Municipal offices may have pipeline maps related to zoning changes, planning permissions, and tax valuations. However, these limited references do not serve as substitutes for maps from operators.

Unless you have a compelling need to view historical pipeline records, chances are contacting the current pipeline company will yield more complete and up-to-date maps.

Hire an Attorney

As a last resort, you can hire a specialized attorney to compel the release of pipeline maps for your property. Specifically, an oil and gas or eminent domain attorney experienced in pipeline matters may be able to force operators or government agencies to provide detailed maps.

The attorney can send official written requests, subpoenas, or pursue other legal demands for pipeline location data. They can also petition for court orders if a company or agency is unwilling to cooperate. However, legal actions can be time-consuming and expensive – so only pursue if absolutely needed.

Key Details to Look for on Pipeline Maps

Once you obtain pipeline maps, here are key details to look for:

  • Pipeline diameters – Thicker pipelines typically convey higher pressure or hazardous products.
  • Pipeline operators – Match to companies whose maps you’ve received to ensure comprehensiveness.
  • Product conveyed – Fuel types like crude oil, natural gas, or gasoline.
  • Operating pressures – Higher pressures can indicate greater risks.
  • Rights-of-way – Corridors that must be kept clear of buildings and trees.
  • Pipeline markers – Help locate pipelines on the physical property.
  • Facilities – Compressor stations, metering stations, valves.
  • Ages – Older pipelines are more prone to corrosion and defects.
  • Burial depths – Shallow depths increase excavation risks.

Compare maps from all sources to look for gaps or discrepancies in any location details. Contact pipeline companies to resolve any missing or unclear information.

Rules and Regulations on Accessing Pipeline Maps

Pipeline operators must provide pipeline maps to the public per federal regulations, but there are specific rules surrounding access:

  • Operators must respond to written pipeline map requests within 45 days per the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • Operators cannot require a statement of purpose for the map request, but they can ask you to clarify the geographical scope.
  • Any applicable fees must be limited to the operator’s cost of reproducing and shipping the maps.
  • Operators must omit any critical energy infrastructure details that could jeopardize security.
  • Pipeline maps provided may have disclaimer language restricting further dissemination or publication.

Understanding these standards helps ensure you receive prompt, transparent access to pipeline map data needed for your property or community.

Using Pipeline Maps to Promote Safety

Accessing detailed pipeline maps enables important safety actions:

  • Avoid building over or near pipelines on your property as per easement agreements. Maps help identify safe construction zones.
  • Prevent excavation accidents by knowing pipeline locations before any digging projects using tools like 811.
  • Plan emergency response with community leaders using maps to devise effective incident plans.
  • Establish maintenance zones along rights-of-way to keep pipelines accessible for inspection.
  • Remove at-risk trees and brush with intrusive root systems near pipelines.
  • Advocate for safety during public utility commission reviews of pipeline expansion proposals using location knowledge.

Accurate pipeline maps empower communities and individuals to proactively protect themselves by making smart, risk-informed decisions.

When Pipeline Maps Are Incomplete

Challenges can arise if pipeline maps from operators or agencies are incomplete:

  • Clearly explain in writing to the company or agency what location information is incorrect or missing from their maps.
  • Request an updated map with the complete, accurate data needed for your property or community.
  • If issues persist, file a complaint with the proper oversight agency like a state public utilities commission.
  • As a last resort, consulting an attorney may compel a company to provide complete maps through legal action.

Any reliable decisions involving pipeline safety require access to full, precise maps. Do not settle for incomplete or outdated maps – persist until securing the information needed from the responsible companies and agencies.


Locating accurate pipeline maps takes some research, diligence, and persistence. But the safety payoff for your property and community makes the effort well worth it. Avoid settling for incomplete maps or approximate pipeline locations during your search. Leverage all the tools and resources available, like contacting operators directly or having an attorney compel complete pipeline data access if needed. Detailed pipeline maps empower communities, companies, and citizens to make smart, informed decisions for preventing pipeline accidents and mitigating risks.