New Lifelines for Pipelines

New Lifelines for Pipelines
flags of Department of Energy and USA painted on cracked wall

The U.S. Department of Energy announced on August 6 that $30 million in funding would be going toward ten projects aimed at giving America’s aging pipeline system new life. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s Rapid Encapsulation of Pipelines Avoiding Intensive Replacement (REPAIR) program has teams developing natural-gas pipeline retrofitting technology to, hopefully, give pipelines another 50 years of life. The goal is to create new pipelines inside the existing ones. 

The teams are developing:

  • Smart coatings
  • Robotic systems to line the insides of the pipes
  • Inspection tools to verify the integrity of the pipes
  • Mapping tools to enable 3D rendering of pipes and adjacent underground infrastructure

Pipelines gave us independence

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are around two million miles of natural gas distribution mains and pipelines in the United States. These pipelines are the lifeblood of our country. It is because of them that America has gained energy independence. And it is because of them we are now a major world energy exporter.

Pipelines are the only option for transporting natural gas. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes said, “Enhancing America’s energy infrastructure, particularly for our abundant, reliable and affordable natural gas, is one of the highest priorities of this Administration. The United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, and natural gas exports have quadrupled since President Trump took office. In order to keep up with this growing industry, it is imperative we modernize and build out infrastructure to safely and efficiently bring this product to market.”

Always a target

Pipelines have become a target for many environmental activists who do not realize that pipelines are the safest way of transporting fossil fuels. Earlier this year Bill Keffer, a contributing columnist to SHALE Magazine and teacher at the Texas Tech University School of Law, wrote an article called, “Pipelines are Economic Lifelines.” In it, he said, “Those who believe climate change is an “existential threat” (which, by the way, means they believe climate change is a threat to our very existence — i.e., the end of civilization) have oil and gas clearly in their crosshairs and will seemingly stop at nothing to remove these essential resources from our economic equation. Our message of pipelines are lifelines will always conflict with their ideology.”

It is good to see the DOE taking pipelines as lifelines seriously by funding teams to breath new life into them, while at the same time making them more efficient and safer than they even were before.