3P Services cutting edge technology used during inspection for PG&E in the bay area, California

PG&E Using Updated Technology to Inspect Natural-Gas Pipelines

Thousands of miles of natural gas pipeline are being tested for safety Pacific Gas & Electric using what it calls a “Smart PIG” to root out problems.

On Thursday, PG&E showed off the so-called “Smart PIGs,” its newest iteration of the utility’s natural gas pipeline inspection tool.

PIG stands for Pipe Inspection Gauge. It travels through natural gas pipelines looking for and precisely recording the location of corrosion, dents, cracks and other potentially disastrous signs of defects or wear and tear.

This newest one — meant for the biggest and potentially most dangerous gas transmission pipelines — can expand or contract.

“The line that we’re testing ranges from 30 to 36 inches in diameter and does have some sharp bends. In the past we’re didn’t have any Smart PIGs that could have inspected that,” said PG&E Spokesman Jason King.

Ever since San Bruno, PG&E has and continues to install more and more Smart PIG portals. The pigs can operate in many more places over much longer distances.

Even if the diameter of the pipe changes somewhere down the line, the Smart PIG can handle that and tell the true condition of the pipe.

Since the San Bruno disaster, PG&E says it has Smart Pigged 1140 miles of big pipelines. It has hydro tested 538 miles of lines, by filling then up with water and pressuring the pipelines up well over their maximum operating pressures.

Additionally, PG&E has replaced 100 miles of major pipelines, but has as many as 5,000 more miles to go. PG&E says those are in areas away from cities, towns, neighborhoods and industrial areas.

Maintenance and cleanliness inside the pipeline will be accomplished by the flexible mop-up PIG.

“That will clean out any debris, any water that’s in the line so that we can get a smooth run with our inline inspection PIG and, in addition, keep it clean and in good condition given the investment,” said King.

It’s an investment aimed at the goal of no more San Bruno fire storms.

By Tom Vacar - KTVU-TV Online on February 27, 2014

PG&E is using new technology to inspect underground natural gas lines.

The utility company on Thursday launched an internal inspection of Pipeline 101, which runs along the Peninsula and into the South Bay, by using what they call “The Smart Pig.”

Pipeline 101 is nearly 100 years old, PG&E said. The inspection, which is being tracked by a computer, will go for 12 miles from Milpitas to Palo Alto.

“It really helps us understand the pipeline from the inside of the pipeline,” said Sumeet Singh of PG&E.

Results from the test will take about two months.

By Cheryl Hurd - NBC Bay Area on February 27, 2014

PG&E uses Smart Pigs to ensure gas pipelines safety

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is inaugurating first-of-its kind “smart pig” inspection technology yesterday to support its pipeline inspections in the Bay Area. The new, customized in-line inspection device which made by a German company allows PG&E to see the inside of its gas transmission pipelines, an additional method for maintaining the safety and reliability of its pipeline network.

PG&E spokesperson Jason King explains the utility has worked with 3P Services, a German company, to create a custom smart pig that would travel 4 mph and navigate tight bends and turns in pipelines ranging from 30-inch to 36-inch diameters. Designed and produced especially for PG&E’s system, the smart pig will provide highly sophisticated data about the pipeline’s condition.

The flexible, multi-diameter smart pig travels through the pipeline, using a combination of sensor technologies to collect information that is then analyzed to assess the condition of the pipe. It can identify dents, metal loss, and other defects that could compromise the safety of the pipeline. If any defects are found on a segment of pipe, PG&E will excavate to repair or replace the segments.

The device was launched from the Milpitas Terminal yesterday morning and travelled 12 miles before reaching its destination in Palo Alto. When the data is captured and analyzed, PG&E will have detailed information about Line 101 that was unobtainable before. Complete analysis will be completed in two months. Further testing will be conducted in the pipeline running through Milpitas to SFO.

Utilities across the nation are trying to cope with the problem of aging pipeline. Public concern raised after the 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno. King said the Smart Pig inspection is only part of the utility’s $2 billion investment to upgrade and improve its pipeline system in Northern and Central California. Other efforts include strength testing pipes with pressurized water, verifying records, installing automated valves and replacing Pipelines.

By Weiwei Ren - Sing Tao Daily on February 28, 2014