Today’s natural gas and oiloil and natural gas gathering pipelines are constructed and maintained to ensure the safe transport of the commodities for decades to come. A combination of the use of quality materials, high construction standards, design considerations, adherence to state and federal regulations, and a century of pipeline technology merge to create confidence in the installation and operation of the natural gas and oiloil and natural gas pipeline system.
Epoxy-coated, high-grade steel pipe, which is used to build pipeline systems, plays an important safety role. The protective coating and heavy wall thickness of the pipe inhibit corrosion and minimize any possibilities of a leak. Additional corrosion mitigation programs, which include cathodic protection and internal corrosion inhibitors, further ensure the longevity of pipeline systems. To ensure quality installation, on-site X-rays are taken to ensure the integrity of the welds and after construction, hydrostatic testing uses high water pressure to verify that the pipeline is strong and has an airtight seal.
Pipelines are operated under specific federal and state regulations, as well as industry standards intended to ensure the safety and health of the public and environment. Gathering lines in populated and environmentally sensitive areas are regulated and controlled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. PHMSA (for regulated oil pipelines) and the [replace this text here]Office of Conservation of the Louisiana Department of Natural ResourcesOffice of Gas and Water of the New York State Department of Public ServicePublic Utilities Commission of Ohio (for gathering pipelines)[replace this text here]Gas Safety Division of the Bureau of Transportation and SafetyRailroad Commission of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental QualityWest Virginia Public Service CommissionWyoming Public Service Commission (for regulated natural gas pipelines) are the authorized agencies in the state that enforce safety regulations and perform pipeline inspections as necessary.
Chesapeake designs pipelines to meet or exceed regulatory and industry standards by using appropriate safety factors for design specifications. These factors include the pressure at which the pipeline will operate, the location of the line and whether it will transport natural gas or oiloil or natural gas.
The location of valve sites is another safety component. Valve sites are required at specific intervals so that the flow of natural gas or oiloil or natural gas may be shut off to a particular area of the pipeline. Locations are selected based on accessibility, the product in the line, proximity to the public, operational necessity and spacing standards. In the unlikely event that a leak or other emergency occurs, valve sites allow for swift containment of the natural gas or oiloil or natural gas stream by shutting off affected sections of the pipeline.
Regulatory agencies employ trained and experienced inspectors who periodically inspect or audit pipeline companies and their facilities. The inspectors typically perform audits on pipelines that are in service. The auditor may look at documents, records or pipeline sites in the course of an audit, as well as interview responsible personnel to evaluate pipeline safety.
PHMSA provides regulatory guidance for pipeline companies to develop, implement and evaluate public education and awareness programs. Chesapeake is fully committed to promoting the safety of our pipelines through increased public awareness and knowledge of those living and working alongside our pipeline systems. We also work closely with local public officials, emergency responders and excavators to ensure public safety.
Key safety information includes instructions on contacting Chesapeake in the event of an emergency, recognizing and responding to a leak, identifying pipeline locations and being proactive on underground damage prevention. This is accomplished through the mailing of educational materials, media advertising, participation in public meetings and educational associations, promoting the company’s website and a variety of other methods. For more information on public awareness and pipeline safety, visit the Pipeline Safety section of CHK.com.