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Hawaii, known for its beautiful beaches and island culture, still relies on essential infrastructure like pipelines to transport fuel and resources. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the major pipeline networks across Hawaii and where they are located on the different islands.

Overview of Pipelines in Hawaii

Types of pipelines

The main types of pipelines found in Hawaii are water pipelines, sewage pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and petroleum pipelines. Water pipelines distribute clean drinking water from sources like reservoirs and treatment plants to homes and businesses.

Sewage pipelines collect waste from across islands and transport it to treatment facilities. Natural gas pipelines carry gas used for electricity generation, heating, cooking, etc. Lastly, petroleum pipelines transport refined oil products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel between ports, airports, and storage terminals.

Islands with pipeline networks

The islands of Oahu and Hawaii have the most extensive pipeline networks in the state. Oahu has over 2,500 miles of water pipelines that serve approximately one million residents across the island. There are also hundreds of miles of sewage, natural gas, and petroleum pipelines supporting Honolulu and other Oahu population centers.

The island of Hawaii likewise has widespread water and sewer pipelines serving major towns like Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Neighboring islands like Maui and Kauai have more limited pipeline infrastructure clustered around main urban areas.

With Hawaii’s small land area and geographic isolation, pipelines are crucial for reliable delivery of essential resources within and between populated areas. Careful monitoring and maintenance helps minimize pipeline issues like leaks or breaks.

As the state continues developing renewable energy, projects are underway to repurpose former petroleum pipelines to transport green hydrogen and ammonia instead.

Pipeline Locations on Oahu

Honolulu pipeline network

The main oil and gas pipeline network on Oahu is concentrated around Honolulu and its surrounding areas. This intricate network of underground pipelines transports fuel from Barbers Point Harbor to various storage terminals and distribution centers within Honolulu.

According to the Hawaii State Energy Office, there are four key pipeline systems in the Honolulu area:

  • A 16-inch diameter multi-product pipeline owned by Par Hawaii that brings jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline from Barbers Point to Honolulu Harbor and Sand Island.
  • A 12-inch diameter jet fuel pipeline from Barbers Point to the Honolulu International Airport owned by Hawaiian Airlines.
  • A 4 to 8-inch refined product pipeline from Sand Island to Mapunapuna and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport owned by Aloha Petroleum.
  • A 3-inch LPG pipeline from Mapunapuna to Airport Industrial Park owned by AmeriGas.

This vast underground network allowing the safe and efficient movement of fuel is crucial for supplying Hawaii’s concentrated population center in Honolulu. The pipelines serve the fuel needs of over 350,000 Oahu residents as well as Honolulu International Airport, the marine and fishing industry, and the military.

Barbers Point distribution center

The Barbers Point Pipeline Terminal and Distribution Center is a key fuel transportation and storage hub on Oahu. Owned by Hawaiian Independent Energy, the facility has a total storage capacity of over 207 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel supplied by marine tankers.

Barbers Point has crucial pipeline connections that distribute fuel to end users across Oahu:

  • A 16-inch multi-product pipeline travels 21 miles to Honolulu Harbor and Sand Island terminals.
  • A 12-inch pipeline moves jet fuel 15 miles to the Honolulu International Airport.
  • A 6-inch pipeline supplies fuel to Kalaeloa (former Barbers Point Naval Air Station) and Ewa Beach.

This vital distribution center handles around 80-90% of all liquid fuel that enters Oahu through its offshore marine terminal, storing it and efficiently dispatching it through pipelines across the island. With Hawaii heavily dependent on fuel imports, Barbers Point plays an indispensable role in ensuring energy resilience and security for Oahu residents.

Pipelines on the Island of Hawaii

The Island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, has a fairly limited pipeline infrastructure compared to the more populated islands of Oahu and Maui. However, there are still some key pipelines that transport critical resources around the island.

Water Pipelines

The largest water pipeline on the Big Island is the Waimea Water System, which transports water from deep well sources in the Waimea area to users in Waikoloa and the Kohala Coast. This pipeline is over 20 miles long and provides millions of gallons of drinking water per day to west side resorts and communities.

There are also smaller water pipelines transporting groundwater and surface water to villages around the island. However, many areas rely on catchment systems to collect rainfall rather than piped water.

Wastewater Pipelines

Wastewater pipelines collect sewage and transport it to treatment plants. The main wastewater system on the Island of Hawaii is in Hilo, which has over 50 miles of collection pipes. Other major wastewater systems are located in Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa.

Outside of these population centers, most areas utilize septic systems rather than centralized sewer pipelines.

Natural Gas Pipelines

There are currently no natural gas pipelines on the Island of Hawaii. Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is sometimes transported short distances via pipelines at industrial facilities.

Most buildings use propane tanks for heating and cooking needs. There have been proposals to build an LNG terminal to import liquid natural gas, but there is no timeline for pipeline construction.

Petroleum Product Pipelines

Hawaii does have a few petroleum product pipelines transporting fuels like diesel and gasoline from harbors to power plants and airports. For example, there is an 11-mile pipeline bringing fuel from Hilo Harbor to the Shipman Power Plant.

However, most fuel is transported around the island by barge or truck rather than dedicated pipelines.

Maui and Molokai Pipeline Infrastructure

Maui and Molokai are two of the Hawaiian Islands that rely on pipeline infrastructure to transport key resources like water and fuel across the islands. Here is an overview of some of the major pipeline networks serving Maui and Molokai:

Water Pipelines

The County of Maui Department of Water Supply operates hundreds of miles of water pipelines across West Maui and Central Maui to distribute drinking water from sources like Iao Aquifer, Waikamoi Watershed, and Mahinahina Water Treatment Facility to residents, businesses, and agricultural operations.

On Molokai, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and Maui County are partners in operating the island’s water system which relies on the Kualapuʻu Aquifer. This aquifer supplies over 1 billion gallons of drinking water per year to Molokai residents through underground pipelines.

Fuel Pipelines

Large fuel depots in Ma’alaea and Kaunakakai harbor receive barge shipments of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel for distribution across Maui and Molokai respectively. Major pipeline networks then transport fuel to gas stations, airports, and power plants on the islands.

For example, around 4.5 million gallons of fuel products arrive at Ma’alaea harbor each month by barge. The fuel is then transported by 12 miles of pipelines across Central Maui to Kahului Airport and various fuel terminals near Kanahā Pond.

From there, a web of pipelines distribute fuel to end-users.

Key Pipeline Operators

The main operators managing pipeline infrastructure on Maui and Molokai include:

  • Maui County Department of Water Supply
  • Moloakai Public Utilities (water pipelines)
  • Par Hawaii (fuel pipelines)
  • Aloha Petroleum (fuel pipelines)

Keeping these pipeline networks well-maintained through routine inspection, cleaning and repairs is crucial for continuing reliable distribution of fresh water and fuel that the people and economy of Maui and Molokai rely on.


In conclusion, Hawaii has an extensive network of pipelines transporting fuel, oil, and liquefied natural gas between islands and distribution centers. Key pipelines are concentrated on Oahu and the Island of Hawaii, connecting refineries and ports to population centers.

Understanding this key infrastructure helps us appreciate the hidden systems supporting life across Hawaii’s beautiful islands.

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