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Pipeline History: Operation PLUTO

Here’s a little pipeline history lesson for you!  June 6 marks ‘D-Day’, that momentous military crossing of the English Channel into Normandy, France during World War II in 1944.  But ships and troops were not all that crossed the channel.  A little known secret surrounds this event, where pipelines played a major role.

Pipeline History - PLUTO

A ‘conundrum’ used to lay pipeline across the English Channel. Photo courtesy of American Oil & Gas Historical Society

Dubbed “Operation PLUTO“, the acronym stood for “Pipelines Under the Ocean”, and it was a feat of engineering that still marvels today.

Using technology that was originally developed for laying undersea cable, a 3-inch (7.6 cm) flexible pipe was wound around an enormous spool, and pulled across the channel.  The pipe would roll off the spool while being towed, and settled on the channel floor.  Pumping stations on either side of the channel were hidden in plain sight, in otherwise inconspicuous looking buildings along the shoreline.

Even in normal circumstances this would have been quite an engineering feat.  But to add to the complexity, it was done in secret, and with the threat of attack at all times.

Alas, they did not have the luxury to model and design this pipeline with a tool like Synergi Gas.  Nor did they have the means to monitor its operation with a solution like Synergi Pipeline Simulator.  But you do have that advantage today!

Interested in learning more?

Read more about Operation PLUTO in this article from the American Oil & Gas Historical Society.  We hope you find this bit of pipeline history interesting and intriguing!



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