Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) have been widely deployed and it is crucial to properly control the energy consumption of the sensor nodes to achieve the maximum WSNs' operation time (i.e., lifetime) as they are normally battery powered. In this paper, for sensor nodes that are utilized to monitor oil pipelines, we study the linear sensor placement problem with the goal of maximizing their lifetime. For a simple equal-distance placement scheme, we first illustrate that the result based on the widely used ideal power model can be misleading (i.e., adding more sensor nodes can improve WSN's lifetime) when compared to that of a realistic power model derived from Tmote Sky sensors. Then, we study equal-power placement schemes and formulate the problem as a MILP (mixed integer linear programming) problem. In addition, two efficient placement heuristics are proposed. The evaluation results show that, even with the Tmote power model, the equal-power placement schemes can improve the WSN's lifetime by up to 29% with properly selected number of sensor nodes, the distance between them and the corresponding transmission power levels. Moreover, one heuristic scheme actually obtains almost the same results as that of MILP, which is optimal. The real deployment in one oil field is also discussed.