Learn more about natural gas pipelines in your area
The Pipeline Safety Enhancement Project (PSEP) is a multi-year pipeline testing and replacement effort being undertaken by Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas®) and San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E®). All natural gas pipelines in our transmission system that have not already been tested, or do not have an adequate record of a strength test as ordered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), will be tested or replaced.
As part of our plan, SoCalGas and SDG&E have proposed to upgrade, replace or add approximately 487 valves on our system with remote control capability. These valves will increase operational flexibility and enable employees to respond more quickly to transmission pipeline incidents.
How are pipelines tested?
The CPUC regulations specify that the pipelines must undergo pressure tests, a process that checks for leaks or weaknesses. SoCalGas and SDG&E will be utilizing hydrostatic pressure tests which are conducted using water. A section of pipeline that is being tested is temporarily removed from service and excavations are dug at both ends of the section to expose the pipeline. Then, the natural gas inside is safely vented out.
Next, both ends of the pipeline section are sealed and it is filled with water. The water pressure is increased to a point higher than the pipeline will normally operate to see if there are leaks. After holding the pressure for eight hours or more, the test is complete. The water is then removed, the pipeline is thoroughly dried, and put back in service.
What will the tests show?
If test results show that a pipeline needs to be repaired or replaced, we will repair or replace the pipeline. After repair, a second pressure test will be performed to confirm the success of the repair.
Where will the testing be done?
SoCalGas and SDG&E have identified approximately 360 miles of our 3,640-mile transmission pipeline system for pressure testing throughout the range of our service territories. In addition, 246 miles of pipeline have been slated for replacement. SoCalGas and SDG&E will be notifying customers, and the public, when pressure testing or replacement activity is coming to their neighborhood.
Why will some pipelines be replaced instead of being tested?
Customer impacts are a key consideration in deciding between testing or replacing. If a line cannot be taken out of service without impacting our customers, we would plan to replace it.
Why are the valves important to the project?
Valves allow us to control the flow of natural gas through pipelines. Currently, over 200 valves in our system already have automatic shut-off capability. The plan to add remote and automatic control valve capability will reduce the amount of time required to close valves as employees will no longer need to travel to the valve.
How long will PSEP last?
PSEP pressure testing and pipeline replacement will begin in mid-2013 and is expected to run continuously in stages for the next ten years, with Phase 1 running until 2022 and Phase 2 likely beyond that.
How much will PSEP cost?
SoCalGas and SDG&E estimate the cost for Phase 1 at $2.5 billion over ten years.
What are the benefits of PSEP?
Pipeline safety has always been a top priority at SoCalGas, and we believe our pipeline system is safe; however, we also believe that all customers will benefit from the added testing and safety validation of our transmission system as ordered by the CPUC.