Mar 2019
Gas Distribution
High Volume Gas Escapes Toolbox - Stage 2
Mar 2019
Apr 2020
Hector E Salgado
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Network Innovation Allowance
GD - Safety and emergency
Health and Safety and Gas Distribution Networks
SGN currently deals with high volume gas escapes through applying one of a range of temporary solutions, which avoids contact with the pipe or intervention on the leak by Gas Operatives, as capturing the gas in a confined area (e.g. in the pit) increases the risk from explosions. Such gas escapes also have the potential to provide significant disruption in supply to customers.
.   In effect, there are 3 issues that need responding to:
·   Removing risk of explosion/injury to the public and operatives.
·   Loss of gas.
·   Ensuring continuation of supply to customer.
The aim of this project is to produce a range of options across several technology readiness levels (TRL) which will form the ‘toolbox’ of the project’s name. This will enable SGN personnel to select a specific tool and dependent on the type of leak encountered use a procedure for its resolution. In Stage 1 these options were evaluated and by undertaking a wide technology review with a firm basis in the operational environment. Stage 1 also included a validation exercise where staff from SGN provided valuable feedback. This allowed for fast-tracking of selected options for further development in Stage 2.
The specific objectives for this project are:
1.       3 test rigs

As HVGE are emergency situations, it is not possible to carry out planned ‘field trials’ of the tools. Therefore, test rigs will play a significant role in the development and validation of the tools. A high-flow rig for conveyance and entrainment tests and a high-pressure rig for sealing tests were developed in Stage 1. These will be supplemented with a high-force deployment rig (potentially using water and / or gas), to enable the concepts to be tested in a realistic HVGE scenario where continual high leak exit forces are present, especially at higher pressures.

The high-force deployment rig can be used subsequently for training purposes to expose end users to the experience of HVGE (the feel and sound) safely in a controlled environment. This will also give confidence to the end users when operating the developed concepts. 
2.       Up to 7 individual tools contained within Toolbox

The key objective for this Stage is to refine the concepts and to produce tested prototype versions of the tools. Eventually these will be used by SGN in conjunction with existing technologies to respond to HVGE events.
3.       Outline Operational Procedures
Outline Operational Procedures will be developed for each of the prototypes. This will be carried out with support from the “Working Group” to ensure that they are most appropriate for the field use of the tools, and that any issues are highlighted as soon as is practical. This ensures that Operations is involved and assisted determining the optimum use of each of the tools
4.       Outline Potential Route to Technical Qualification
The route to qualification / accreditation of each of the tools will be required to be fully understood by the end of Stage 2. The “Working Group” will support Steer in developing a plan to achieve Technical Qualification (and therefore field use). This plan will be actioned during Stage 3.
5.       Full reporting and witness testing
Creating confidence in the tools within the field teams will be key to field deployment. Witness Testing and appropriate communication throughout the project with a set of key field individuals (“Working Group”) will provide this. Reporting will be carried out as standard to allow Innovation to properly monitor the progress and outcomes of the work.
The success criteria for the project is as follows:
  • Rig testing of prototypes for evaluation.
  • Development of up to 7 prototype tools.
  • Development and outline of operational procedures for their use.
  • Outline potential route to Technical Qualification.
  • Recommendations for Stage 3 and approval of SGN/PM/G/23 and field trial plan.