Bridge Utilities Infrastructure News

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Where Is a Natural Gas Pipeline Likely to Leak?

Posted by Edward Dill on Aug 7, 2017 10:12:48 AM

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Natural gas pipelines get a lot of press when leaks occur, but they’re actually one of the safest methods of transporting energy in use today. Gas leaks can happen for any number of reasons, most of which are entirely preventable with regular maintenance and diligent inspections of pipeline structures.

Aptus works with utility companies, DOTs, and many other organizations to ensure natural gas pipelines attached to bridges are safe and leak-free. With over two decades of experience, where have we found gas pipelines most likely to leak?

Above-Ground Bridges
Any gas pipeline that is above ground is more prone to leakage as it is exposed to sun, wind, rain, snow, ice, salt, vibration, and impacts. Bridge structures themselves are typically designed to withstand these environmental stressors, but codependent natural gas pipelines aren’t always installed or maintained with the same structural integrity in mind. They should be.

Points of Transition
Natural gas leaks don’t always occur underground. In fact, when leaks do happen, they often pop up where an underground pipe is transitioning to an above-ground route. The change in temperature, moisture level, and exposure can wreak havoc on an ill-protected pipeline. Likewise, other “transitional points” along a pipeline such as joints, bends, and sweeps are more vulnerable to the effects of leakage. Leaks in these spots can be attributed to anything from shoddy initial welds to reduced thickness in the pipe as it changes shape.

Friction Points
Friction spots, such as spots where the pipe is rubbing against its hangers, are particularly susceptible to damage. This holds true if the hangers are too small, in disrepair, or made in the wrong design or of an incorrect material. In some cases, pipelines are designed – or modified – so that piping rubs up against a structure or another pipe. This should never happen; gas pipelines aren’t meant to withstand the constant pressure and heat differential caused by friction.

Areas Without Coating
Pipelines, usually made from metal or composites, should be fully coated in protective materials. These coatings – sometimes a primer, sometimes a tape, sometimes a wax – are designed to add strength to the pipe as well as protect it from the effects of moisture, corrosion, and more. Where protective coating has not been applied, applied incorrectly, or has worn away, a pipe is more likely to leak. Proper maintenance is the easiest way to remedy this easily-preventable issue.

Aptus has worked on hundreds of natural gas pipelines throughout the years. In addition to installing brand-new, safety-forward pipeline systems on bridges, we’re also brought in to handle leaks, both minor and serious. In some cases, our technicians catch gas leaks during routine pipeline inspections, too.

Why do so many natural gas companies and bridge maintenance crews Go Aptus?
Because we’re the leading name in bridge-attached utilities like natural gas.
Give us a call today to schedule an inspection.

Topics: Natural Gas, Bridge Pipelines