Pipeline Integrity Programs are a “Growing Business” for LNG and Small-Scale LNG Suppliers


Outages caused by the maintenance, repair or replacement of aging pipelines give a boost to suppliers who don’t depend on pipelines to transport natural gas to customers, industry experts said Tuesday.

Pipeline integrity programs are a growing activity for small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) specialist, Stabilis Solutions Inc., to maintain the flow of molecules to end users during testing or other outages, said Steve Stump, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the company.

“When they are doing pipeline integrity work or if there are pipeline maintenance projects, we can come in, use LNG, vaporize it, pressurize it anytime,” he said. at the LDC Gas Forums Mid-Continent conference in Chicago. “And we have these types of projects going on literally every day.”

Stump also said that LNG takes a more active part in pipeline maintenance, as a propellant during pigging applications.

“The advantage is that you don’t bring any non-natural gas element into the pipeline, so they don’t have to vent it,” he said. “And when they’re done pigging, they don’t have to remove all the nitrogen. “Additionally,” the booster you buy is also your retail product. It goes right down to the retail customer.

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Chesapeake Utilities Corp. Business Development Director Eric Pearson said his company “absolutely believes” that infrastructure integrity issues create a great opportunity for its subsidiary Marlin Gas Services. The company specializes in transporting compressed natural gas (CNG) through its “virtual pipeline” of trucks, portable compressors, decompression units and other mobile equipment. It is also diversifying into renewable natural gas (RNG) and small-scale LNG transport.

Pearson said Marlin is developing different sizes of compressors to be deployed in pipelines to “reduce or even eliminate” methane emissions during integrity testing.

“There is a great opportunity with the integrity of the pipeline… and turn it into a service with the virtual pipeline, as well as RNG opportunities,” he said.

Regarding RNG, Pearson said Marlin is currently partnering with a number of developers to bring their gas to market. The company would install the compression equipment at the RNG production site, then transport it elsewhere to be decompressed and placed in the pipeline system.

“This type of virtual pipeline allows us to collect gas from many places that can be a significant distance from the existing pipeline infrastructure,” he said.

Large companies also consider the potential for off-pipeline transportation during integrity testing. Canadian distributor Enbridge Gas Inc. is already pursuing RNG and CNG projects, said Hilary Thompson, director of storage and transportation business development. The company serves 75% of Ontarians and is North America’s largest utility by volume, she said.

Enbridge’s maintenance programs go through a careful planning process that takes into account the full life cycle of assets, Thompson said.

“Then we start to ask ourselves, where is the potential work we want to do to help with the health and condition of our assets and, therefore, where will the constraints be? And then that goes into our full planning loop that looks at both traditional and non-traditional options. “

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