|Pipeline Safety > Pipeline Integrity Management Program
Pipelines are operated under extensive federal and state regulations and industry standards, to ensure the safety and health of the public and the environment. These regulations and standards cover pipeline location, design, construction, operation and maintenance, safety testing and ongoing procedures to ensure the integrity of the pipelines. Pipelines are also inspected by both federal and state pipeline safety inspectors.
New Mexico Gas Company’s Integrity Management Program (IMP) is a comprehensive program of pipeline inspections, assessments and mitigation to ensure that all segments of our natural gas pipelines meet federal and state safety requirements and are operated safely.
Upon identifying any abnormalities within a pipeline, the IMP Team repairs them, establishes a plan for follow-up inspections and acts to prevent problems. All potential anomalies are assessed to make sure those needing immediate repair are prioritized. An action schedule is developed within 180 days of the inspection date for all repairs that can be safely scheduled. And finally, anomalies that can be monitored through scheduled inspections are identified.
Mitigation of any pipeline anomaly may include repair and replacement of affected segments, methods to prevent internal and external corrosion, lowering operating pressure and minimizing unintended releases.
Once assessment, inspection and mitigation are complete, the IMP Team conducts post-assessments and a formal document is prepared that includes the findings, conclusions, and recommendations to ensure the pipeline will remain safe. We also create a follow-up assessment schedule. The Engineering Department reviews the conclusions and recommendations of this assessment and includes them in a revised long-term assessment plan and schedule. To guarantee that the pipeline integrity is upheld and that proper mitigation has been done, New Mexico Gas Company may also perform several additional assessments.
Communication plays a key role in ensuring the safe operation, proper maintenance and inspections of pipelines. New Mexico Gas Company communicates any updates regarding pipeline integrity management to local and regional emergency responders, as well as the public along the pipeline.
br/>New Mexico Gas Company’s pipeline integrity management program is regularly evaluated using performance measures and metrics to make sure quality, effectiveness and safety is upheld. This includes careful documentation of measures, such as the number of miles of pipeline inspected, number of immediate repairs completed, number of scheduled repairs completed, and number of anomalies found. These performance measures are evaluated semi-annually and submitted to the Office of Pipeline Safety.
High consequence areas
The IMP includes a comprehensive, systematic and ongoing process of collecting and analyzing pipeline data, performing risk assessments, and assessing the integrity of the pipelines in High Consequence Areas. HCAs are regions of high population density, specifically with 20 or more people or people of limited mobility, where the potential failure of a pipeline could have significant impact on people or property.
The IMP thoroughly assesses integrity risks in HCAs, repairs any potential problems, and follows up with a schedule for re-inspection. The annual plan includes scheduling inspections using various inspection methods to locate abnormalities within a pipeline that may need repair.
- Ongoing inspections include two primary methods:
In-line Inspection, which is a non-destructive technique for locating internal and external corrosion and stress corrosion cracking, as well as dents and metal loss. It uses various tools sent through the pipeline with normal gas flow to collect data for later examination. To detect internal and external corrosion such as metal loss and deformities, a magnetic flux leakage tool is sent through the pipeline and an internal scan is made.
- Direct assessment process, which incorporates knowledge of the physical characteristics and operating history of the pipeline through pre-assessment, inspections, direct examinations, and evaluations to determine the pipeline’s integrity. This method is carried out through two processes, external corrosion direct assessment (ECDA) and internal corrosion direct assessment (ICDA). Direct inspection is useful for identifying potential time-dependent anomalies. Once these inspection methods are complete, a plan for repair may be needed for anomalies that pose a potential threat to the integrity of the pipeline.
Continual Pipeline Safety Monitoring
Our pipelines are also continually monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by New Mexico Gas Company control technicians, who make sure the pipelines are operating within safety parameters. Electronic sensors at more than 200 sites along our pipelines constantly report pipeline pressures, temperatures and flow volumes to our control center. Our control technicians can detect a problem on the transmission system from the control room and can dispatch crews to assess and correct the situation. Safety is their primary concern.