Annual Gas Distribution Survey

Annual Gas Distribution Survey
February 2011, Vol. 66 No. 2

PHMSA notes that one of the primary tools for avoiding damages to pipelines and other underground facilities is timely communication between excavators and those who operate or own buried facilities. When contacting One-Call Centers, excavators should be able to properly identify areas of planned digging activities to ensure all utilities are accounted for before work commences. The One-Call Center then contacts utility companies, which can dispatch crews to locate and mark the exact location of their utilities to avoid.

Survey Results
Once again, LDC managers were queried for comments on several subjects, including the cost of finding and repairing leaky mains. The cost figures and comments from industry participants on these and other topics follow.

This year’s figures provided by survey participants on main costs report that two to 4 inch-diameter PE pipe continues to be widely used in the gas utility industry, accounting for 95 to 98 percent of new mains installations in developed areas. While the cost per foot for steel main installations appears to be dropping, the cost per foot for plastic main installations has increased.
Those reporting plastic main installation costs per foot ranged from $9.54 to $23.54 for 2-inch; $12.96 to $33.00 for 4-inch; and $45.70 to $64.00 for 6-inch.

While a number of companies indicated they no longer used steel mains for new installations, others provided the following as costs for protected steel main installations: 2-inch, $4.75 – $18.50; 4-inch, $13.90 – $17.85; and $14.75 to $64for 6-inch.

As in past year, the respondents cited leak location – street vs. lawn – as driving the finding and repair cost of leaky mains. Some 45 percent of the respondents gave location as a major cost factor. Those providing finding and repair costs per occurrence, regardless of size, placed costs between $350 and $2,800. However, more than 76 percent of this year’s respondents gave $350 to $1,500 as an average costs for finding and repairing leaky mains.

One utility almost 1.1 million customers provided the following as the company’s average cost for finding and repairing leaky mains: 2 to 8-inch, $350; and 12- to 24-inch, $900.

Integrity management
A significant number of this year’s survey participants expect the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) to be enacted next year to be costly and burdensome, particularly for small LDCs. More than 75 percent of those surveyed said they expected the legislation to be more costly for the LDC and ultimately the customer than the PHMSA has suggested.