Pipelines are a safe and environmentally responsible way of transporting natural gas.
Natural Gas pipeline infrastructure is well established in North America.
The US natural gas pipeline network is a highly-integrated grid that can move natural gas to nearly any location in the continental United States. The intricate transportation system is made up of about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometres) of mainline and other pipelines that link production areas and natural gas markets.
Canada moves its natural gas resources seamlessly across provincial and national borders, from supply basins to demand centres. The Canadian Gas Association estimates the country has more than 281,000 miles (452,000 kilometres) of natural gas pipelines.
As the proposed Island Gas Connector Project (IGC Project) is designed, constructed, operated and maintained, Williams is committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety using construction and operational procedures that meet or exceed already stringent industry regulations.
Williams understands it has a responsibility to its neighbors and the communities along its pipelines to embrace pipeline safety by implementing rigorous safety programs and practices every step of the way.
As a recognized leader in pipeline development, Williams owns and operates more than 33,000 miles (53,100 kilometres) of pipelines system wide providing natural gas for clean-power generation, heating and industrial use. Williams’ operations touch approximately 30 percent of US natural gas.
Through its Northwest Pipeline system, Williams has safely maintained and operated natural gas pipelines in the Pacific Northwest for almost 60 years.
The IGC Project will be monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through Williams’ Gas Control Facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gas Control would know immediately if there is a drop in pressure along the IGC Project system. Safety controls would be in place to quickly close valves to stop the flow of natural gas. Our equipment can detect even a slight change in pressure or flow. Dispatchers can quickly activate emergency shutdown procedures if they detect a problem. IGC Project personnel would work with local emergency responders in Washington State and British Columbia in any emergency situation.
Once operational, the IGC Project will be maintained and operated according to procedures outlined in Williams’ Pipeline Integrity Management Program and Operations and Maintenance procedures and appropriate regulatory authorities. This includes regular maintenance inspections, including leak surveys, valve and safety device inspections, and the use of an inline inspection tool known as a “smart pig”.
How a smart pig works
Williams will develop an emergency response plan with local emergency responders and will seek to incorporate feedback from Native American Tribes, Canadian Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and communities into the preparation of this plan. In addition, we will meet regularly with emergency responders to ensure the emergency response plan will be implemented safely and effectively in the event of an emergency.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
Advances in pipeline control technology have made it possible to safely operate pipelines from a single location. From its Gas Control Facility, Williams applies Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) computer systems. Information is relayed back and forth between Gas Control and remote sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using Wide Area Network system technology.
This system regularly transmits volumes, pressure and temperature. In addition to monitoring the pipeline on a real-time basis, the system also allows Williams to operate compressor facilities, certain valves and other facilities remotely.
Williams’ interstate natural gas pipelines, gathering network and processing operations span from the deep-water Gulf of Mexico to energy sources in northern Canada. An example of Williams’ experience and expertise in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining subsea pipelines includes 745-mile (1,199-kilometre) Gulfstream Pipeline, in the Gulf of Mexico. Natural gas has flowed through this efficient, environmentally safe and reliable natural gas delivery network 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, since May 2002.
Williams developed the Pipeline Emergency Repair Kit (PERK) that can be deployed quickly to repair damage at water depths of up to 10,000 feet. Our engineers designed PERK with the technology to handle virtually any situation – from anchor drags to dropped objects. The kit also includes all the required equipment to make necessary repairs.
LNG carriers are built to rigorous international standards. Construction is supervised by third-party inspectors, and all ships must have international certification to carry liquefied natural gas. LNG carriers have been used since 1964. In 2013, approximately 240 million tonnes of LNG were traded around the world.
The most critical and responsible emergency preparedness strategy is prevention. However, in the case of an emergency, IGC Project operators would respond quickly with detailed procedures and trained professionals. During the development of the IGC Project, detailed emergency response plans will be developed to address potential spills, fires, security breaches and natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and lightning strikes. These plans would be developed in collaboration with communities and local emergency response personnel.
Natural gas is colorless, odorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. In the unlikely instance of a leak, natural gas would evaporate into the atmosphere where it would be broken down into carbon dioxide and water.