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Drilling used to inject gas into pipelines in winter

POSTED: January 31, 2014 11:22 p.m.

There is some type of drilling going on in Flowery Branch on Atlanta Highway, which has some high-tech, high-pressure equipment and the police monitoring it 24/7. What is going on there?

The Atlanta Gas Light Co. uses that location to inject natural gas into the local pipeline during cold periods in order to maintain proper pressure, according to Richard Rogers, who directs liquefied natural gas operations for the company.

“That particular area in our distribution system has historically been low-pressure sensitive in very low temperatures,” he said. “So we proactively set up there, so we could vaporize liquid natural gas and inject into the pipeline there.”

Rogers said the practice is common and entails taking natural gas that has been liquefied and stored in a tanker to a site that needs greater pressure. Then technicians vaporize the liquid and inject it into the pipeline when pressures dip too low. Liquefying the gas reduces its volume by about 600 times, Rogers said, which allows it to be more easily stored and transported.

This week marks the second time this year that Atlanta Gas Light has had to compensate for cold temperatures. The first was during the second week of January when temperatures fell into the single digits.

The process is safe, Rogers said. The law enforcement personnel were hired to provide security for the equipment when it is not in use.

“That is typical for a lot of construction projects that have a lot of expensive equipment,” said company spokeswomen Kristie Benson. 

However, company officials are hoping that soon there will be no need to continue the practice in Flowery Branch. In December of last year Atlanta Gas Light entered the second phase of its Stride program, which aims to improve infrastructure across Georgia.

The program was started in 2009 and improved capacity and pressure in Atlanta and in Cherokee, Cobb, North Fulton and Forsyth counties. In addition, a new supply point was added by tapping into an interstate gas line in Newnan. 

Phase two of the program will address problems in Coweta, Gwinnett, Hall and Forsyth counties, possibly making the system in Flowery Branch less sensitive to low pressures.

In the meantime, workers will continue to truck the liquid gas to that location when temperatures drop.

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