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SoCalGas to continue upgrading its pipelines

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World Pipelines,

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) dedicates significant resources to improving the safety and integrity of its more than 101 000 miles of natural gas pipelines. The company has recently announced that it will upgrade or replace approximately 50 - 60 pipeline valves in 2017 to further enhance the safety of its pipeline system.

The upgraded valves will feature technologies that allow operators to control the valves from a remote location or automatically shut off the valve if a drop in pressure is detected.

The valves will allow gas control operators to respond more quickly if gas flow needs to be shut off in an emergency, which is part of SoCalGas' pipeline safety enhancement plan (PSEP), a multi-billion dollar programme is testing and updating SoCalGas’ natural gas pipeline infrastructure in Southern California.

Since SoCalGas began using this new valve technology five years ago, the PSEP programme has replaced or retrofitted over 100 valve locations. PSEP has five separate project teams who will replace and retrofit valves through 2022. The company completed 56 valve upgrade projects in 2016.

Valves control the flow of natural gas through pipelines. An open valve allows natural gas to flow freely, while a closed valve shuts off the gas flow to a pipeline segment. The company's transmission system is equipped with valves that separate the pipelines into sections. In the past, qualified field personnel had to drive to the valve site to open or close a valve as needed.

Remote control valves (RCVs) allows valves to be opened or closed remotely by system operators from a central control location. Other new valves are equipped with a control device that automatically triggers a mechanism to shut off gas flow in the event of a large pressure drop. These are called automatic shut-off valves (ASVs).

SoCalGas uses both RCVs and ASVs throughout its pipeline system at strategic locations. As the company continues to upgrade and retrofit valves with RCV and ASV technology, operators will have more flexibility and can respond more quickly if a valve suddenly needs to be closed.

In 2017, the company plans to spend approximately US$1.2 billion for improvements to distribution, transmission and storage systems and for pipeline safety.

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US pipeline news Natural gas pipeline news