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PG&E Strengthens Pipeline Safety With Cutting-Edge Inspection Technology

SAN FRANCISCO, June 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Building on its efforts to enhance pipeline safety throughout Northern and Central California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced that it will add a new, customized in-line inspection device to its growing suite of technology used in the field. Working from inside of natural gas pipelines, this cutting-edge "smart pig" provides a highly efficient and accurate way to determine the condition of PG&E's natural gas transmission system – the arteries of the system that heats and powers customers' homes and businesses.  

Built by 3P Services, the custom "smart pig" is unique and unlike standard inspection tools, navigates tight bends and turns in pipelines ranging from 30" to 36" in diameter.  Designed and produced especially for PG&E's system, the "smart pig" will provide highly sophisticated data about the pipeline's condition. The tool is currently in development at 3P Services in Lingen, Germany.

"Ensuring that our pipelines are in safe operating condition is our most important job. 'Smart pig' technology tremendously enhances our ability to perform routine inspection and maintenance system-wide faster, more efficiently and with greater confidence," said Nick Stavropoulos, executive vice president, PG&E Gas Operations.

The flexible, multi-diameter "smart pig" travels through the pipeline, using a combination of sensor technologies to collect information that is then analyzed to assess the condition of the pipe. It can identify dents, corrosion, and other defects that could compromise the safety of the pipeline. If any defects are found on a segment of pipe, PG&E will excavate to repair or replace the segments. "Smart pigs" are just one of many tools PG&E is using to monitor for potential leaks and safeguard its natural gas system in Northern and Central California. 

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