PE pipe could be used for Texas gas infrastructure projects

08 July 2010 22:02  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Polyethylene (PE) pipe is used in a vast majority of new construction for US gas distribution lines and is well-suited for a massive gas infrastructure upgrade being considered by Texas state regulators, an industry spokesperson said on Thursday.

“Right now, PE in terms of market share for new construction of gas distribution is 90-95%,” said Tony Radoszewski, executive director of the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI).

PE pipe has two major advantages in that it offers fusible, non-leak joints and is not susceptible to corrosion, he said.

In addition, PE pipe can be installed underground without digging a trench in many cases. So-called trench-less installation is a more economical and less disruptive process.

The Texas Railroad Commission is considering a rule to require utilities in the state to replace pipelines that deliver natural gas from main lines under the street into homes, according to a report earlier this week in the Dallas Morning News.

The newspaper said regulators were looking into the gas distribution infrastructure after several deadly explosions at homes in north Texas.

The report estimated it would cost more than $1bn (€800m) to replace the 2.2m steel gas lines in Texas with plastic.

“What you’re seeing here is the acknowledgement in a newspaper about a condition that a lot of utilities are facing,” Radoszewski said.

“When you’re talking service lines going back to the ‘60s, I think all it takes is a couple of explosions and you get people’s attention quickly,” he added.

A spokesperson for ATMOS Energy, a major gas distributor, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

US natural gas suppliers have 42bn feet of PE pipe and millions of connections in service currently, according to PPI.

($1 = €0.79)

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By: David Barry
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