Company History

More than 50 years ago, eight major oil companies began discussing the idea of building a pipeline to transport products from the Gulf Coast of the United States to points north along the eastern seaboard.

Originally named Suwannee Pipe Line Company, company owners met in February 1962 and changed the name of the company to Colonial Pipeline, to reflect the Colonial America states the pipeline would cross on its way to New York Harbor.

Another company joined the effort, and on March 6, 1962, Colonial Pipeline Company formally announced its plans in a press release describing “the largest single, privately financed construction project in the history of the United States.” The investment approached $370 million.

To construct the Colonial Pipeline, 600,000 tons of steel would be required, 16.7 million cubic yards of dirt would need to be trenched to bury the pipeline that would initially include 27 pumping stations to move refined product between Houston, Texas and Linden, N.J., on the New York harbor.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Luther Hodges attended the ceremonial ground-breaking near Atlanta, the pipeline’s eventual headquarters, on June 20, 1962. Actual construction began on August 1, 1962. But in his remarks, Hodges stated, “This is the sort of action this country needs if it is to realize its full economic potential.”

On July 2, 1962, Colonial Pipeline Company solicited bids from contractors to build 15 segments of the pipeline’s mainline. Each segment averaged 100 miles and 200-300 workers. Work progressed at roughly one mile per day for each of the segments.

The first lengths of pipe were delivered by rail, barge and on specially constructed trailers to handle 80-foot double joints on the road. Colonial began filling the pipeline with product on the morning of September 16, 1963 in Houston. This “linefill” process was shut down that same afternoon for two days later when Hurricane Cindy struck the Gulf Coast.

On December 1, 1964 mainline construction of the Colonial Pipeline was complete and the Linden Junction Tank Farm and Delivery Facility were activated. The Colonial Pipeline system was fully operational on December 18, 1964.

In May of 1966, Colonial began phase one of an expansion project which consisted of 18 intermediate booster stations which added horsepower to the system and allowed more product to flow. Shortly thereafter, Colonial continued to expand and increased the daily capacity on the mainline to 1 million barrels per day.

Over the years, Colonial was recognized for its safety and environmental record and called on to continue expanding its mainline and its service to additional markets, including major airports and Department of Defense facilities.

Today, Colonial Pipeline Company is based in Alpharetta, Ga., in the metropolitan Atlanta area and now provides its customers an average of 100 million gallons of refined products every day. Its network of pipelines top 5,500 miles and its services to customers have kept pace with the important role Colonial serves as a critical piece of U.S. energy infrastructure.

Technological advancements have played a vital role in Colonial’s history, from computers that control lines, open and close valves and monitor the pressure inside the pipe, to environmentally friendly geodesic domes atop storage tanks, to “smart pigs” that inspect the inside of pipelines and ensure they are safe to operate.

Call Before You Dig

Building a new fence or installing a swimming pool in your back yard? Is the local utility running new underground lines in your neighborhood? Be sure to call “8-1-1” before you dig near a pipeline right of way to prevent accidents and ensure safety.

Safety First

Colonial Pipeline Company is committed to safety and environmental stewardship across all of our operations. This philosophy is fundamental to the success of our business. Please visit our Safety & Environment page to learn more about our operating principles.