DOE Seeks Comments on Pipeline Reliability Initiative
The Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory
(NETL) last week issued a draft solicitation seeking natural gas
industry comments on a $10-million, three-year program to develop
technology innovations to strengthen the reliability of the U.S.
gas pipeline grid.
The NETL, DOE's lead field center for fossil fuel technology,
posted the draft to its web site (www.netl.doe.gov) last Wednesday,
and asked interested parties to submit comments by Oct. 24. The
final solicitation will be issued in early November, with proposals
due in January.
The NETL is seeking research proposals designed to improve the
reliability of either, or both, interstate gas pipelines and
distribution lines. It said it expects to award partial funding for
multiple projects, with industry participants to assume at least
35% of each selected project's cost.
The draft solicitation is based on recommendations made in a
joint NETL and Office of Fossil Energy report, "Pathways for
Enhanced Integrity, Reliability and Deliverability," that was
released in September.
The solicitation seeks industry proposals in a number of areas:
technologies to detect, alleviate third-party damage to pipelines;
better technologies for detecting pipeline leaks; new technologies
or tools to gauge pipeline integrity and repair damaged pipe with
minimal excavation; more corrosion-resistant materials that can
transport gas at higher pressure; technologies that allow location
and/or detection of underground facilities, including non-metallic
pipes; 'smart pipes' that could be self-monitoring or even
self-healing; more fuel-efficient compressors; and improved
automated data acquisition, system monitoring and control
The need for these technology improvements is becoming
especially critical, the NETL said, given the aging of the U.S. gas
pipeline infrastructure and the growing demand for natural gas.
The DOE sought funding for natural gas infrastructure research
in its fiscal year 2001 budget for the first time. Last week,
Congress forwarded an appropriations bill to President Clinton that
included the administration's request for nearly $5 million for the
domestic gas infrastructure initiative. The program will be headed
up by the newly created Strategic Center for Natural Gas, which is
part of NETL.
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