How long do natural gas pipelines last?

Those pipes have an average lifespan of 50 years. And it's not just the old pipelines that are about to go out of service.

How long do natural gas pipelines last?

Those pipes have an average lifespan of 50 years. And it's not just the old pipelines that are about to go out of service. Younger pipelines are also at risk of falling into disuse, as the energy sector becomes less dependent on natural gas in favor of wind, solar and batteries. Natural gas pipelines are usually designed to have a useful life of about 50 years.

The safe life of a gas pipeline is limited by the inevitable corrosion of steel buried in the ground and by the extreme stress of continuous high-pressure operation (a 40-foot section of steel pipe pressurized to 1480 psi will have a total force of more than 93 million pounds, or 46,800 tons, continuously pressing out on its inner wall). They take an average of 50 years to age. The same old pipelines that have been inactive are not the only ones at risk, as modern pipelines are also less used as hydropower and wind power become more important in the energy industry. This is what a well-maintained 63-year-old oil pipeline looks like.

The results of the inspection along Enbridge Line 5 have regularly indicated that, from an engineering and maintenance point of view, the pipe, although not perfect, is as good as new and in excellent condition. An original segment of Line 5, recently unearthed during an upgrade to a pumping station near the Mackinac Strait, confirms these results. The photo above shows a piece of Line 5 that was removed during the Mackinaw City pumping station upgrade in July. The left part of the pipe is covered by a fiber-reinforced enamel coating that provides an impermeable barrier against the elements.

The central part shows a formidable welding seam, and the right side shows the state of the pipe under the enamel coating. The Mackinac Strait Line 5 crossing of Enbridge includes other safety precautions to promote safe and reliable operation of the line. This particular 30-foot segment of Line 5 is shipped to Germany, where it will help Enbridge inspection tool manufacturers calibrate their inspection devices and more accurately distinguish between manufacturing anomalies and corrosion. If you intend to use gas appliances or a type of natural gas for heating, make sure that your devices are inspected annually.

The agency also enforces a federal law requiring gas companies to submit distribution integrity management plans to state gas pipeline regulators, describing the biggest threats to their pipeline networks and what they are doing to ensure that gas leaks do not threaten people or people. property. About 2.5% of the 2- to 24-inch gas pipes that supply gas to neighborhoods and downtown are made of cast iron. About 4% of Washington Gas %26 Light's natural gas was unaccounted for in the past two years, according to its annual reports to federal regulators.

The natural gas fracking debate draws hundreds of fracking that fuels environmental concern The debate on natural gas drilling. Natural gas reaches 67 million homes and at least 5 million businesses, schools, and other buildings across the country, and gas distribution and service lines wind beneath most American city neighborhoods.

Shanna Creasman
Shanna Creasman

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