Currently about two-thirds of oil and gas worldwide is produced from onshore fields and transported via pipelines. Many of these pipelines traverse remote regions and difficult terrains, and yet count among the major economic infrastructure corridors of the world, and therefore require a high level of integrity. Global energy supply depends on overcoming difficult terrains. Throughout much of the 20th century, traditional pipeline industry practice did not seriously address terrain risks in many remote onshore regions. Pipeline landslide rupture data are presented to illustrate the historical risks. Modern safety and environmental standards require a step change, and orders of magnitude of risk reduction. Construction costs for remote region pipelines are dominated by terrain, but often have little input from terrain specialists. The 15th Glossop Lecture addresses these challenges, and presents some experiences in building collaboration between the pipeliners and the various geotechnical professions. The historical landslide figures are updated to illustrate the risk reduction that has been achieved by modern geotechnical approaches. It is suggested that the main contributors are the working methods now used increasingly on major projects: risk management of geohazards; Geoteams and the emergence of subject specialists; and Ground Models and approaches to terrain evaluation. The themes are illustrated by examples from pipelining in the Andes, the Sahara and the Caucasus regions. Cost issues, and the importance of quantifying terrain-driven costs, are illustrated by a detailed case record of rock trench excavation.