Conference to cover natural gas pipeline safety

earth-newMore than 300 natural gas operators and pipeline contractors vital to the success of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s programs for pipeline safety will be attending the 23rd annual conference hosted by the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Utility & Railroad Safety. The pipeline safety conference will be held September 30 to October 2 in Virginia Beach.

Among the conference topics are presentations on pipeline integrity management program compliance issues and solutions; safety management systems and the importance of a strong safety culture; innovative technologies to enhance pipeline safety; lessons learned from gas incidents; and other related issues.

“This annual event is a critical component of our outreach and education efforts to ensure that Virginia’s natural gas infrastructure is safe and meets all federal pipeline safety regulations,” said Utility & Railroad Safety Division Director Massoud Tahamtani.

In Virginia, the damage prevention program has helped reduce excavation damage to underground pipelines by more than 70 percent over the last 18 years. In addition, under Virginia’s Steps to Advance Virginia’s Energy (SAVE) program, the Commission has authorized several natural gas operators to employ accelerated replacement programs to address the associated risks with aging cast iron and bare steel pipes.

Since the beginning of the SAVE programs in 2006, nearly 115 miles of cast iron and ductile iron pipe has been replaced by local gas distribution companies. Another 200 miles of bare steel pipe has been replaced. The cost of these infrastructure replacement programs are recovered through an additional rate surcharge approved by the Commission and is included in the monthly bill of gas customers.

City gas systems have eliminated nearly 300 miles of iron pipe and another 20 miles of bare steel over the same time period. The recovery of the cost of these replacement efforts is determined by the local governing body which sets the rates and charges imposed on customers of municipal systems.

Virginia’s pipeline safety and damage prevention programs are performed pursuant to state law. The State Corporation Commission has been designated as the appropriate state agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia to prescribe and enforce compliance with federal safety standards for gas pipeline facilities used for intrastate transportation.

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