Virginia Natural Gas modernizing pipeline infrastructure, promoting safe digging

Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) is working with state and local governments to modernize its pipeline infrastructure and promote safe digging.

By upgrading and replacing more than 400 miles of older pipes through the Steps to Advance Virginia’s Energy (SAVE) program, VNG has developed some of the region’s safest, most modern pipelines.

Now, VNG is incorporating technology to help predict and prevent damages to its critical infrastructure. The new technology, developed by Urbint, uses artificial intelligence to predict which third-party dig requests are most at risk for potential excavation damage and helps prevent incidents before they happen.

“We’ve made significant resource investments in asset protection, which has helped us continue ongoing improvements in performance,” David Gatling, VNG asset protection manager, said. “This predictive technology helps us balance safety and reliability as a means of protection and threat prediction to help reduce third-party excavation damage to our natural gas infrastructure.”

The technology uses internal data from VNG and data from Urbint on environmental conditions and other factors to assess the risk that includes the likelihood of damages occurring. The software assesses risk on risk Virginia 811 (VA811) dig requests daily, enabling VNG to focus efforts where damages may be more likely to occur.

“The program automatically imports information directly from VA811 and uses predictive analysis to identify and assign risk levels for third-party excavations,” Gatling said. “It can predict and pinpoint any areas of concern using artificial intelligence models to help prevent damages.”

The tool also helps VNG meet its sustainability goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by predicting where damage could occur and preventing the escape of methane gas.

“Urbint is another innovative tool to help us make better data and risk-driven decisions to further reduce and prevent third-party damages to our infrastructure going forward,” Gatling said. “The intent of this program is to help us take action in the right place, at the right time, before an incident occurs.”

Dave Kovaleski

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