Gas Pipeline Safety

PG&E has a comprehensive testing and inspection program that helps to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system.
  • We monitor the system status in real time on a 24-hour basis.
  • We regularly conduct leak surveys and patrols of all of our natural gas transmission pipelines. Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately.
PG&E is taking significant actions to improve the safety and operations of our natural gas transmission system – and the safety of the communities we serve.

Steps we’ve already taken to improve pipeline safety include:

Pressure reduction

PG&E regulates pressure on its gas transmission system through a series of safety measures, including pressure regulator stations and overpressure protection devices. These systems keep pressure within specified limits. They are inspected and maintained regularly.

PG&E reduced pressure in some pipelines to increase the margin of safety until the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressures (MAOP) could be validated through actions such as records validation, pressure tests, or pipe replacement.

Read about pipeline pressure >>

Hydrostatic pressure testing

Hydrostatic testing involves pressurizing a pipe with water to reveal potential weaknesses. Hydrostatic testing is a proven method for verifying a pipeline’s MAOP, or capability to operate at a safe level of pressure. Hydrostatic testing is also used in other industries to test items such as scuba tanks, fire extinguishers and air compressor tanks.

Learn more about hydrostatic pressure testing >>

Leak surveys and testing

PG&E checks more than 5,700 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines for leaks, first by aircraft equipped with advanced laser detection technology, then by teams of gas field technicians using handheld detectors.

In addition, we use a variety of methods to survey, monitor, and test pipelines on a continuous basis, including using "smart pig" in-line inspection devices that travel the length of a pipeline to identify any internal issues, such as corrosion. PG&E is also conducting hydrostatic pressure tests on 150 miles of transmission pipeline, which involves filling the pipe with water at high pressures to reveal potential weaknesses.

Records validation

Since January 2011, PG&E engineers have been working to digitize, review and verify more than one million paper records, and scrutinize newer computerized records. PG&E has records for pressure tests, or historical operating pressure information, for more than 90 percent of 1,805 miles of transmission pipelines located in high-consequence areas. We have also confirmed pressure test information for more than 30 percent of pipeline segments that were installed before regulations were enacted to require pressure tests.

For pipeline segments where we have an incomplete record, we are taking extra safety precautions as appropriate. These may include, but are not limited to, reducing pressure where advisable, excavating and surveying pipe, pressure testing or replacing pipe if necessary. We continue to search for and review our files for the remaining pressure test records.

Value automation

Automated gas transmission pipeline valves stop the flow of gas to a ruptured pipeline section in less time than traditional manual valves. By quickly isolating and stopping the flow of gas, emergency responders can take action more quickly and the impact to the public and environment is reduced.

By early 2012, PG&E expects to install 29 automated valves on the San Francisco Peninsula, and expects to install 228 valves throughout the system by 2014.


My Pipeline

Gas Pipeline Safety

How We Check for Safety

  • Learn about the various testing methods PG&E performs as part of the maintenance activities for gas transmission pipelines.

    Odorization of Natural Gas
    Proper levels of odorization are verified by conducting periodic tests of the odorized gas.

    Cathodic Protection
    We maintain cathodic protection systems on our steel pipelines to control corrosion.

    Leak Surveys
    Transmission pipelines are all surveyed for leaks at least once per calendar year. Distribution pipelines are surveyed for leaks at least once every five years.

    Pipeline Patrols
    Transmission pipelines are patrolled either aerially or on the ground on a quarterly basis.

    Pipeline Integrity Assessment
    Additional pipeline integrity assessments are performed regularly in accordance with federal regulations. Read more about Pipeline Safety Inspection and Testing

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