Posted on November 29, 2012

PG&E Improves Gas-Leak Survey Capability with Innovative Handheld Tool

PG&E is now able to more efficiently identify potential leaks on its gas pipeline system by using a highly advanced leak detection device by Heath Consultants Inc.

The leak detection device, known as Detecto Pak-Infrared (DP-IR™), is designed to be selective in detecting methane and will not generate a false alarm on other hydrocarbon gases. The DP-IR tool helps PG&E to more quickly locate and assess potential leaks on its pipeline system, and helps determine priorities for repair or monitoring. In addition, crews are able to operate in the field under a variety of environmental conditions due to the rugged design of the devices.

The DP-IR, which uses a simple light beam, has the capability to grade or classify any leak that it detects. (Photo by James Green.)

Over the past year, PG&E has streamlined its foot patrol leak survey capabilities by deploying more than 150 of the DP-IR devices across its service area.

“Incorporating the DP-IR into surveys of our natural gas system has made a positive impact on how we identify and repair potential leaks,” said Steve Redding, PG&E’s director of gas maintenance and construction. “Using this equipment allows our crews to inspect and maintain our gas pipeline system with even greater efficiency.”

The DP-IR is a step up from traditional surveying equipment. It utilizes a simple light beam, eliminating the need for expensive gas cylinders and refill systems. It also has the capability to grade, or classify, any leak that it detects.

(Click here to see a Currents video on a variety of new tools in use by PG&E’s gas operations department.)

“Now our gas leak surveyors can cover more ground, find leaks faster and help our crews fix problems quicker than in the past,” said Chris Vana, an information technology director with PG&E. “When technology can make a process simpler and easier to follow, our customers benefit.”

While in operation, the DP-IR continuously monitors several parameters.  Should any of these parameters go outside the operational limits, an alarm will sound and a fault/warning error message will be displayed to alert the survey technician, ensuring another level of operational safety.

“Heath Consultants Inc. is happy to help PG&E as they continue to improve operations, pipeline integrity and public safety within the state of California,” said Paul D. Wehnert, senior vice president of Heath Consultants, which is based in Houston.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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