At Williams, pipeline safety is our top priority. The Transco pipeline is part of a vast pipeline transmission system sometimes referred to as the “interstate highway” for natural gas. It consists of more than 300,000 miles of high-strength steel pipe moving large amounts of natural gas thousands of miles from producing regions to market. According to statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board, natural gas pipelines are the most cost-efficient and safe mode of energy transportation today – surpassing highway, railroad, airborne or waterborne transport.
Interstate pipelines like Transco are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety, which imposes a broad range of construction and operations standards. Williams has its own high standards for pipeline design, material specifications, construction, maintenance and testing. These standards, which must be met before a pipeline can be placed into service, include:
- At steel rolling mills, where pipe is fabricated, pipeline representatives carefully inspect the pipe to ensure that quality meets or exceeds both federal and industry-wide standards.
- Protective coatings and other corrosion control techniques are used to help prevent corrosion of the pipeline and its facilities.
- During construction, pipeline representatives carefully inspect the fabrication and construction of the pipeline. Welds linking the joints of the pipeline are checked to test their integrity.
- Once the pipeline is in the ground and before it is placed into service, it is pressure-tested with water or inert gas in excess of its operating pressure to verify that it can withstand high pressure.
- In accordance with federal law, aboveground pipeline markers are used to alert the public of the presence of one or more pipelines within an easement. These markers, which contain the name of the pipeline operator and emergency contact information, are usually located near road, rail, fence, water crossings and curbs.
- Once the pipeline is placed in the ground, the operator installs a system called cathodic protection, which, along with the pipe’s protective coating, is designed to prevent corrosion.
- To help protect against third-party damage, regular inspections by motor vehicles and low-flying patrol aircraft keep a watchful eye on the pipeline routes and adjacent areas.
- The pipeline will become part of the nationwide One-Call system.
- Pipeline maintenance crews perform facility inspections, check for construction activity in the vicinity of the pipeline, and maintain the pipelines and their rights of way. Heavily populated areas are inspected and patrolled more frequently.
- Pipelines undergo periodic maintenance inspections, including leak surveys and valve and safety device inspections. An internal computerized inspection device known as a “smart pig” is also utilized to periodically examine the pipe’s condition.
View how a smart pig works:
- Local pipeline representatives meet with local emergency response officials, excavation contractors, landowners and local community leaders to educate them about pipeline operation and emergency response procedures.
- Safety information regarding our operations is distributed annually to landowners, residents and businesses located near our facilities.
- The Transco pipeline is continuously monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through its Gas Control center.
One of the greatest single challenges to safe pipeline operations is the accidental damage caused by third parties. Local One-Call centers provide a free service to anyone planning excavation, construction or blasting activities. After a center receives a call, it notifies underground utilities in the area of the planned work. Representatives from each utility company visit the proposed work site and mark the location of their facilities to reduce the risk of damage. To contact the One-Call center nearest you, dial 811.