El Paso delays startup of repaired gas line

El Paso Natural Gas Co. has again delayed a 2-day test , scheduled for Friday and Saturday, of a 30-in. natural gas pipeline that ruptured and exploded Aug. 19 near Carlsbad, NM, killing 12 persons.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Mar. 15�El Paso Natural Gas Co. has again delayed a 2-day test, scheduled Friday and Saturday, of repairs to a 30-in. natural gas pipeline that ruptured and exploded Aug. 19 near Carlsbad, NM, killing 12 persons (OGJ Online, Aug. 21, 2000).

Workers were still cleaning the inside of the pipeline before sending a �smart pig,� a mechanical unit equipped with sensors, to inspect repairs from the inside, said officials at the parent El Paso Energy Corp. in Houston.

The inspection was originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Company officials say they�ll reschedule a test date after the pipeline is cleaned.

That inspection will enable the US Department of Transportation�s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) to determine if that segment of the system is safe to return to operation. If the inspection proves satisfactory, the pipeline would probably be subjected to additional pressurization tests before finally being phased back into operation, an OPS spokesman told OGJ Online.

The pipeline, designated 1103 by El Paso Natural Gas officials, is one of three at the explosion site that are part of the company�s system moving gas from West Texas to California markets. That segment of the system was moving 1.1 bcfd of gas just prior to the rupture, said company officials. The two remaining lines, one 30-in. and one 26-in, are now moving 920 MMcfd of gas.

The cause of the rupture is still under investigation, OPS reported.

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