Demand, Maintenance To Keep Gas Distribution Market Stable In ’09

Annual Survey and Report
By Rita Tubb, Managing Editor | February 2009 Vol. 64 No.2

Of those reporting finding and repair costs per occurrence, regardless of size, the following were given as the highest costs: $1,530 $2,700. Those reporting costs by size provided the following: 1 inch, $500 to $775; 2 inch, $1,050 to $2,200; and 4 inch, $1,800.
One gas utility with 100,000 customers that provided costs by pipe diameter said the following represented its average costs for finding and repairing leaky mains: 1 inch, $500; 2 inch, $1,200 and 4 inch, $1,800.

Fusion technology

For several years now, the response to our question on fusion technology shows that both butt fusion and electro fusion are well received and pose few problems. Once again, respondents indicate that problems with butt fusion and electro fusion have more to do with operator error than the technology. In fact, butt fusion was consistently mentioned as a widely used trouble free, low cost technology, while electro fusion was cited as being widely used for live main tie ins and dealing with tight or confined spaces.

Once again, the response to our questions on causes of plastic pipe failure in service have identified third party damage as the major cause of distribution pipeline incidents. Supporting this are statistics from the DOT’s Office of Pipeline Safety. According to the latest OPS summary report on distribution pipeline incidents by cause, of the 153 incidents in 2007, 48 were caused by third party excavation damage. Third party excavation damage also led to the deaths of four persons and resulted in 12 injuries. Other primary causes fire and explosions (17) and failure due to a car, truck or other vehicle (14).

As to incidents in 2008, OPS reported that through Aug. 31, 2008, distribution operator incidents totaled 109 and accounted for 39 injuries and three fatalities.

What’s needed

To our question on improvements to existing construction equipment tools and technology, respondents consistently said they would most like to see trenchless and keyhole technology improvements. Others indicated a need for affordable tools to locate plastic lines, improved steel pipe insertion technology and tools, along with paving removal and restoration improvements.
On the wish list of one gas utility was technology and tools for steel pipe insertion with plastic pipe. Another saw a need for aesthetic gas meters.