Terms of the Trade

Pipeline and Right of Way



Abandoned Pipeline
1. A pipeline no longer in use by the owner. Not necessarily abandoned and ownership relinquished, but basically taken out of service for various reasons. See idled or out of service pipelines. 2. A pipeline that is no longer connected to the system and is no longer maintained. The pipeline can be abandoned in place, by removal, or sold. (NPMS glossary) 3. A pipeline that is physically separated from its source of gas/oil/product and is no longer maintained under 49 CFR Part 192 (PHMSA glossary).

Permanently removed from service

Abandonment of Services
Refers to cessation of services or cessation of a facility that has been used to provide service. For example, the Natural Gas Act provides that a natural gas company subject to NGA regulation may not "abandon" service or facilities without first obtaining Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval.

A summary of all the conveyances and other facts, which show the condition of title to a given piece of real estate.

Ad Valorem
According to value. Often refers to Ad Valorem Taxes that are assessed to property by local governing authorities. Local entities assess ad valorem taxes on pipelines crossing through their jurisdictions; cities, counties, school districts, etc.

Ad Valorem Tax
A tax, which varies with the value of property. See above regarding pipelines.

Administrator (man)/Administratrix (woman)
One who has been appointed by the appropriate court to administer the estate of a person who has died without a will (intestate)?

Adverse Possession
The open and notorious possession and occupation of real property under an evident claim of title. In pipeline terms, this could apply to an easement or right of way and including the fixture or pipe in the right of way.

A sworn statement in writing, under oath, taken before a Notary Public or other officer authorized to administer oaths, to authenticate a fact or action.

One who acts for, or in place of, another by authority of him. A real estate agent is one who has been authorized by an owner to sell his property for him. A pipeline broker might act as an agent for a potential purchaser or seller in buying or selling a pipeline or easement.

Agreement of Sale
The agreement of the parties, reduced to writing, setting forth all of the terms and conditions of a sale. Can also be termed Purchase and Sales agreement.

Alignment Sheets
Blueprints, As Built Sheets, or other terminology that lays out the plan and procedures exactly as a pipeline is built according to route and includes generally the material used, ownership, and geographical features of terrain among other data. There often exist other pipeline crossings and maintenance reports of the pipeline.

An estimate of value of real property usually for a specific purpose and for a specific date or time. Can apply to other property as well and is often called asset valuations when not included in real property. Example; Pipeline Appraisal, or a specific business appraisal, sometimes referred to as asset valuations.

Appraisal District
Geographical designation for an area, often a county, where an appraisal jurisdiction conducts valuations or appraisals of mostly real estate and other properties for the purpose of determining value so that taxing authorities within that district can assess taxes. (County, school, city, etc.)

One who is qualified to estimate or render in opinion as to the value of real property, and who in most states must be the holder of a current Real Estate Brokers License. Term has expanded to include qualified individuals who value any asset or business entity, but not limited to real estate or real property.

An attachment or that which belongs to something else; as a meter is an appurtenance to a pipeline.

The asbestiform varieties of serpentinite (chrysotile), riebeckite, (crocidolite), cummingtonite-grunerite, anthophyllite, and actinolite-tremolite.

Asbestos Containing Material or ACM
Refers to pipe coating which contains a layer of asbestos embedded in the tar coating or in the felt wrap used in pipe coatings. Category I non friable means ACM packings, resilient floor covering, and asphalt roofing products containing more than 1 per cent asbestos using the method of Polarized Light Microsopy. Category II non friable ACM is that containing more than 1 per cent asbestos using the same method of testing and that when dry, cannot be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.

Asbestos Testing
Samples of the presumed asbestos containing material are sent to a laboratory for testing for asbestos content. In a simple test with a cost of under $50.00, you will find the type of asbestos and the percentage found in the coating.

Assessed Value
The dollar amount assigned to property by the authorized taxing authority for the purpose of having that property share in taxation.

The valuation of property for tax purposes levied to meet some specific purpose.

A person, corporation, or entity to whom an agreement or contract is assigned.

A transfer for consideration of one's estate, right, title, or interest which he might have in real property to another property. Assignment can be expanded to include other properties that are not considered real property.

A person, corporation or entity that assigns an estate, right, title or interest in real property or other types of property to another party.

Attestation Clause
Usually the last clause in an instrument, which reads: "IN WITNESS WHEREOF, etc."

Attorney in Fact
A person who has been given legal power to act for another by virtue of a written instrument which is known as a "POWER OF ATTORNEY." The power may be for a specific purpose such as power to execute all oil and gas leases.


The technique for covering a completed pipeline so that adequate fill material is provided underneath the pipe as well as above it. Backfilling prevents pipe damage due to loose rock, abrasion, shifting and washouts.

Bell Holes
A hole dug around a pipeline by men or machinery for the purpose of inspection, repair, or replacement of pipe. In pipeline recovery and removal, this method is used to check pipe for wall thickness using ultra sound equipment and to get a sample of coating if available for lab testing for asbestos, etc. Also, it is an opportunity for a visual inspection of the condition of the exterior of the pipe for evidence of pitting and scale.

Blanket Easement
An easement across a property that is not defined except by the property lines of the landowner. For example, a defined easement or right of way might be defined as being forty feet wide across a tract of land, while a blanket easement might cover an entire tract of land allowing the easement to go wherever the grantee needs or wants it to go. This easement was often granted to allow flow lines or gathering lines to be laid as needed to oil and gas wells as drilled.

Blanket Mortgage
A mortgage, which covers two or more properties given as collateral for a loan.

A written obligation under seal by which a person or corporation binds itself to pay a certain sum or sums on or before a certain appointed time or term.

One who, being licensed by the state, assists in negotiating sales, purchases, loans and leasing of real property. This term applies to real estate brokers. Other qualified brokers might serve the same purpose as business brokers or pipeline brokers, which are not necessarily licensed by states, but are certified by education or professional organizations.


The process of converting into present value or worth a series of anticipated future annual installation of income.

A large pipe in which a carrier pipeline is contained. Casing is used when a pipeline passes under railroad right of ways and some roads.

Cathodic Protection
A means of preventing the destructive electrochemical process of corrosion of a metal object (pipeline) by using it as the cathode of a cell with a sacrificial anode. Cathodic protection is a last resort defense against corrosion in most pipelines.

Code of Federal Regulations

Chain of Title
A chronological list of all records, conveyances, mortgages, and court actions, which show the condition of a tract of land.

Personal property, such as household goods, automobiles, cattle, and all removable fixtures.

To remove brush, trees, rocks, and other obstructions from and area.

Cloud on Title
A defect in the title of real property arising from an instrument or court order purporting to create an interest in the property or a judgment or lien affecting the property.

Common Carrier
Any cargo transportation system available for public use. Nearly all pipelines are common carriers.

Competent Person
One who is capable of identifying existing asbestos hazards in the workplace and selecting the appropriate control strategy for asbestos exposure and has been trained accordingly.

The action by which a government entity, public utility, or common carrier vested with the right of eminent domain takes private property for public use.

The price, inducement, or influence, which induces a contracting party to enter into a contract.

Adjacent to, in contact with or touching.

Corrosion Control
The measures used to prevent or reduce the effects of corrosion. These practices can range from simply painting metal, to isolate it from moisture and chemicals, and to insulate it from galvanic currents, to cathodic protection. The use of chemical inhibitors and closed systems are other examples of corrosion control.

An agreement between two or more parties, by instrument in writing, signed, sealed and delivered, by which one of the parties conveys property or pledges certain actions to the other, or stipulates to the truth of certain facts.

Cover Depth
The measurement from the top of a pipe to ground level along a right of way.

The means by which title to real property is transferred.

The interest a husband has in the real property belonging to his wife (in some states).

Cut and Fill
To cut down high ground or fill in low ground to achieve a uniform grade for a pipeline.


In pipeline terminology refers to damages to crops or property that might occur when pipelines are constructed, removed, replaced, or repaired. Compensation for these damages can be paid in funds, material, or labor depending on the negotiating skills of the right of way agent.

The process of making a pipeline inactive.

An appropriation of land to some public use, made by the owner, and accepted for such use by or on behalf of the public.

An instrument in writing and sealed, conveying an interest in real property.

A failure to live up to the terms of a contract such as a mortgage.

The wrecking or taking out of any load-supporting structural member of a facility together with any related handling operations or the intentional burning of any facility. In plant demolition, can refer to any related razing, removing, or stripping of asbestos products.

The reduction in the value of an asset by reason of the taking away of exhaustible material assets or resources, such as the cutting of trees from a forest or the removal of oil from a well.

A loss in value of real or personal property due to deterioration, obsolescence, or both.

Disposition of land or property by the Last Will and Testament of a donor.

The removal of a tenant, by proper proceedings, for breach of conditions of a lease.

Double Ditching
Method by which soil is replaced in the order it was removed. Applies to digging trenches for laying of pipeline. Some construction or deconstruction contracts of pipelines have requirements for replacing topsoil in this manner.

The interest a wife has in the real property belonging to her husband (in some states).


Any of certain rights held by a person or corporation in land of another as in a right of way easement.

Economic Life
The estimated period over which a property may be profitably utilized. Example; a pipeline might have a useful economic life of thirty to fifty years.

A proceeding to recover possession of land or damages for unlawful detention.

Eminent Domain
The right by which a government entity, public utility, or common carrier may take private property for public use.

Unlawful gains upon the lands, property, or authority of another. Buildings, ponds, even fences, pavement over a pipeline easement would be considered encroachment.

An interest or right in real property, which diminishes the value of the fee such as mortgages, judgments, and easements.

The extent of actual value one has in real property.

Equity of Redemption
The right of a mortgager to redeem the mortgaged premises by payment of interest and principal.

The reversion of property to the state and other government entity due to lack or heirs, or, the lack or failure of persons legally entitled to hold said property.

The placing of a deed, money, or other thing in the hands of a third party to be held until certain conditions are met by one or both of the other two parties.

The interest, which one has in property.

Et al
Latin term meaning "and others."

Et Ux

Et Vir
Latin term meaning "and husband."

The act of removing a person from lands he had held by process of law.

Executor (male)/Executrix (female)
A person who has been appointed in a will to carry out directions and requests of the deceased person. Note that a court appoints an Administrator when no will was left while an Executor implies that a will exists.

Definite and explicit. Usually contrasted with "implied."


Fair Market Value
The estimated highest price a property will bring if sold on the open market. Usually defined as the highest price a buyer is willing to pay and the lowest price a seller is willing to take, with neither party under any type of stress with regard to the property.

Fallow Land
Land, usually under cultivation, which lies idle for a growing season.

Fee Simple
An estate in property which allows an owner complete control over his property, within the law, to dispose of the property in any manner during his lifetime; and to pas the property to his heirs or legal representatives upon his death.

Feme Covert
A married woman.

Fencing Crew
Pipeline construction workers responsible for constructing temporary gates at points where a right of way crosses fence lines.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
An independent agency (created in 1977) of the Department of Energy that has jurisdiction over oil and gas pipelines in interstate commerce. AKA FERC.

Feme Sole
A single woman, including widows and divorcees.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The use of material to raise the grade of land to a desired level.

Flume Pipe
Large pipe used in creek and stream ditching in pipeline construction or deconstruction to allow the water to flow normally and provide a passage for equipment over the water.

Force Majeure
An act outside the control of two contracting parties such as storms, earthquakes, wars, etc.

The termination of all rights and the retaking of property covered by a mortgage.

An estate in land of an undetermined duration. It can be a life estate, a lease with the unlimited right of renewal, or a fee simple estate.

Front Foot
A measure of land being one foot in width along the frontage of a tract. The depth of the tract would be unknown unless specifically mentioned.


Gathering Line
A pipeline usually of small diameter, used in gathering crude oil or gas from the field to a main pipeline.

Gathering System
The pipelines and other equipment needed to transport oil, gas or both form wells to a central point- the gathering station.- where there is the accessory equipment required to deliver a clean and salable product to the market or to another pipeline. An oil gathering system includes oil and gas gathering separators, emulsion treaters, gathering tanks, and similar equipment. A gas gathering system includes regulators, compressors, dehydrators, and associated equipment.

Sufficient in law. Normally used in contrast with "valuable."

The process of providing a smooth and even work area to facilitate the movement of equipment onto and along the right of way. Grading entails leveling, cutting and filling.

1. To bestow, convey or transfer. 2. An instrument conveying rights or property.

One to whom a grant is made; the purchaser or company acquiring a right of way easement.

One who conveys; the seller or landowner conveying a right of way easement.


That part of a conveyance beginning with "to have and to hold."

Lands and other things capable of being inherited.


A deduction from certain circumstances. Usually used in contrast with "Express."

Idled Pipeline
Out of service pipeline. One with no product or throughput in the pipeline.

Without leaving a will.

Inactive Pipeline
A pipeline that is being maintained under Part 192, but is not presently being used to transport gas. (Gas Piping Technology Committee Guide definition)

Inactive Pipeline
The pipeline is maintained and can be brought back into service. (NPMS Glossary)

In-Service Pipeline
A pipeline that transports gas or hazardous liquid, or is not currently transporting products but is maintained and can be brought back into service. (NPMS Glossary)

Joint Tenancy

Two or more persons who hold land in fee simple for years, for life, or at will. They have one conveyance commencing at the same time and maintain undivided possession. Upon death of one, all rights, title and interest in the property remain with the survivors.

A debt or obligation evidenced by a court decree. A judgment creates a lien against the property of a judgment debtor.


Land Contract (Purchase Contract)
A contract for the purchase of land where the deed is delivered only after the payment for the land, usually in installments, has been made.

Land Warrant
A warrant issued by the Federal Government to purchasers of public land.

An owner of an estate in land who has leased the same for a period of time.

An agreement setting forth the terms and conditions under which a person may hold and use land.

An estate in land less than fee simple, usually held under lease for a specific period of time.

A holder of real property under terms of a lease.

One who conveys certain rights to real property for a specific period of time.

As used in real estate, the right to enter upon a tract of land for a specific purpose without possessing any estate in the property.

An encumbrance upon property usually for payment of some debts or obligation.

Life Estate
An estate of varying degrees in land limited to the life of the principal.

The technique of laying an additional pipeline alongside an existing one when additional capacity is desired.


Maintenance Reports
Periodic reports written by maintenance personnel regarding the status of a pipeline. Usually written for leakage, replacement, relocations for pipe, etc.

Mechanics Lien
A lien against property, which is awarded to a person who performs certain, work or provides certain material for work on a tract of land.

Metes and Bounds
A method of land identification describing the outer boundaries of a tract of land.

A circumstance where over time a pipeline segment may move or migrate to the surface. Soil erosion and wind factors play a part as well.

A pledge of a certain property, usually written in the form of a conveyance, for the payment of a debt of obligation.

The person or entity taking or accepting the mortgage as a pledge.

The person or entity that pledges property (the Borrower).

A process of building up or crowning with soils the area directly over where a pipeline was removed. This procedure prevents and compensates for any settling of soil that might occur over time.


Nominal Consideration
A payment that has no relation to the real value of the property.

National Pipeline Mapping Service

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material Radioactivity on pipe or other material that has been exposed to liquids primarily passing though that leaves a degree of this same substance. AKA NORM.

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material


Office of Pipeline Safety

Out of Service Pipeline
An idled pipeline with no product or throughput.


Presumed asbestos containing material or thermal system insulation and surfacing material found in buildings, coatings and other structures to prevent heat loss or gain and built prior to 1980. The insulation called Thermal System Insulation contained ACM for the purpose of insulation.

Continuing forever. Many right of way agreements written in the early part of the twentieth century were written "in perpetuity".

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, DOT

A scraping tool that is forced through a pipeline or flow line to clean out accumulations of wax, scale, and debris from the walls of the pipe. It travels with the flow of product in the line, cleaning the pipe walls, by means of blades or brushes affixed to it. Also called a line scraper or go-devil.

1. A system of connected lengths of pipe usually buried in the earth or laid on the sea floor, that is used for transporting petroleum and natural gas. A pipeline serves as both a conveyor and temporary container. 2. All parts of the physical facilities through which gas moves in transportation, including pipe, valves, and other appurtenances attached to the pipe, compressor units, metering stations, regulation stations, checking stations, holders, and fabricated assemblies. (49 CFR 192.3 definition)

Pipeline Appraisal
An asset valuation for a pipeline. Usually undertaken for banks, purchasers and sellers of pipeline to determine fair market value. Often used for estate settlements and tax disputes with local appraisal districts.

Pipeline Facility
New or existing pipeline, rights of way, and any equipment, facility, or building used in the treatment or transportation of gas, hazardous liquids, or carbon dioxide. (49 CFR 192.3 Definitions)

Pipeline Patrol
A watch, usually maintained from an airplane, to check the route of a pipeline for leaks or other abnormal conditions.

A map or drawing showing the boundaries of a tract of land.

Presumptive Rights
Rights obtained under presumption of a grant after a period of years.

Products Line
A pipeline used to ship refined products such as diesel fuel, jet fuel, and others.

Purchase Contract
A contract for the purchase of land usually setting out a series of periodical payments. Upon completion of the payments, the title to the land is transferred.


Quitclaim Deed
An instrument which conveys any interest a person may have in property but does not profess to the validity of such interest.


A registered name, which designates membership in the National Association of Realtors.

A term used for real property.

A device used to convert alternating current into direct current. Used in pipeline corrosion protection.

In right of way acquisition, an instrument whereby a landowner or tenant relinquishes any claim of damage caused by construction of a pipeline or other installation.

Release of Right of Way
Instrument for recording a right of way back to a landowner. This is a common practice of pipeline recovery companies after a pipeline is removed from a property.

A future interest created in some person other than the grantor such as in a Life Estate.

Process of sowing or planting additional grass seeds to a right of way after installation or removal of a pipeline.

A right or interest reserved out of a tract by the grantor unto himself or his assign as minerals.

A limitation on the use of land usually created in a conveyance.

Retired Pipeline
A pipeline that is still connected to the system, but has been taken out of service and is no longer maintained. The operator plans to abandon the pipeline and is waiting for approval. (NPMS Glossary)

A return or conveyance of rights in an estate as a result of certain conditions. For example, an easement may contain the condition that all rights granted revert to the grantor in the event the easement is not used for a given period of time.

Right of way
A strip of land over which a pipeline, electrical line, telephone line, railroad or roadway is constructed.

Right of Way Agent
A person engaged in the acquisition of land and land rights to accommodate pipelines, electrical lines or facilities pertaining to rights-of-way.

Right of Way Agreement
An agreement in writing, under seal, in which an owner in real property grants a right of way upon, over and across his land. The basic contract between a landowner (grantor) and a pipeline company (grantee).

Right of Way Restoration
In pipeline construction or deconstruction, the process of returning a right of way to its original condition or better after the work is completed. Restoration depends on legal stipulation in the contract with the landowner and the pipeline company.

Riparian Rights
The rights of landowners of lands on waterways as they related to ownership.

Road Crossing
Laying of a pipeline under a roadbed or though a road.


Severance Damage
The loss in value of the remaining tract by virtue of the taking of a part.

Senior Right of Way Agent designation for the highest certification available for the International Right of Way Association, a 10,000-member organization made up of right of way agent professionals.

Steel Pipe Testing
The basic form of testing for pipeline steel is a yield (burst) test, which measures in psi the amount of pressure needed to burst the pipe. The Tensile test measures the hardness of the steel. Other tests can indicate the chemical properties present. Antech Laboratories in Houston does a good work at reasonable prices.

The determining of boundaries and corners, with distances and directions in order to identify land.


Tank Farm
A group of large tanks maintained by a pipeline and used to store oil after it has been transferred from the production tanks and before it is transferred to the refinery.

Tenancy by Entirety
A tenancy, which is created between a husband and wife and upon death of either, the other, is vested with the whole.

Tenancy in Common
A form of ownership in which each owner owns an undivided interest in property. If one of the owners dies, his interest passes to his heirs or assigns.

Usually relates to term of contract for a pipeline right of way. In older right of way agreements, there were no set limits as to expiration of grantee rights for easements. Others might set limits based on whether or not the pipeline was still in use or "two year after cessation of use", etc. This is a key part of a right of way agreement.

One who dies leaving a valid will.

Trunk Line
A main pipeline to which other gathering lines may gather to.

Trust Deed
A mortgage on property to a third party to be held as security for a debt.


A device used to control the rate of flow in a pipeline, to open or shut off a line completely, or to serve as an automatic or semiautomatic safety device. Those with extensive usage include the gate valve, plug valve, globe valve, needle valve, check valve, and pressure relief valve.

Purchaser of property.

Seller of property.

A device installed on one end of that portion of a pipeline that crosses under a road. The vent marks the boundary of the highway right of way and provides an exit for any fluids should the pipeline develop a leak. It also aids in locating line breaks.


The relinquishment or surrender of some claim, right, or privilege.

To assure by an express covenant that the title is good.


The division of a municipality into districts with restricted uses imposed on each type district.

Pipeline Recovery Manual

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