North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

MAY 2018

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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22 North American Oil & Gas Pipelines | MAY 2 018 Integrating GNSS with Advanced Technologies for Underground Asset Location Improves Accuracy and Boosts Productivity PROTECTING PIPELINES By Erik Dahlberg As the United States works to improve and rebuild its infrastructure, a ma- jor concern is to gain accurate knowledge on the locations and conditions of existing assets. In addition to identifying and planning needed repairs, critical assets must be protected against accidental damage. One of the most important needs is the location of underground natural gas pipelines. According to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Adminis- tration (PHMSA), America has more than 1.8 million miles of gas distribu- tion mains and service pipelines. In ad- dition, roughly 300,000 miles of large collection and transmission lines carry gas from production fields to distribu- tion centers. Some of the most vulnerable pipe- lines are in developed and municipal areas including commercial, residen- tial and industrial settings. In these regions, miles of gas pipelines are not located with any degree of accuracy, or the locations are not recorded in an eas- ily retrievable and shareable format. For example, outdated paper maps often are not tied to accurate coordinate sys- tems. They rely on "tribal knowledge" that comes from an aging workforce — workers nearing retirement age may be the only ones who know the (often ap- proximate) location of the lines. There are enormous hazards related to not knowing where and how deep these gas pipelines are located. With- out accurate, readily available location data, pipeline operators, construction companies, farmers, land owners and other stakeholders will continue to face the risk of accidental and poten- tially catastrophic damage to a buried gas pipeline. The 2016 PIPES Act passed by Con- gress calls for increased use of data and technology to improve pipeline safety. Supported by industry players such as the American Petroleum Institute (API)

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