ATCO replacing pipeline

ATCO Pipelines is putting the finishing touches on a natural gas transmission pipeline replacement that will eventually work its way from Red Deer to Viking.

A 65-year-old ATCO natural gas transmission pipeline that services customers from Red Deer to Lacombe is being replaced. This is Phase 1 of the replacement which will eventually stretch all the way to Viking. Above

A 65-year-old ATCO natural gas transmission pipeline that services customers from Red Deer to Lacombe is being replaced. This is Phase 1 of the replacement which will eventually stretch all the way to Viking. Above

ATCO Pipelines is putting the finishing touches on a natural gas transmission pipeline replacement that will eventually work its way from Red Deer to Viking.

Workers laboured Monday on removing a 65-year-old pipeline from an area just south of the Blindman River on the west side of Hwy 2A and replacing it with new pipeline.

ATCO Pipelines vice-president of operations Scott Arndt said Tuesday that although the current pipeline was built in 1945-46, it’s “not really an age thing, necessarily.”

“Just our study of the integrity history of the pipeline led us to the conclusion that we were at a point where we felt it was necessary to replace it,” Arndt said.

The line has been subject to gas leaks. Arndt said ATCO workers had detected gas at “very, very low levels of concentration” using methane-sensitive instruments and walking the line. These led to repairs, but the leaks and “a number of other contributing factors” led them to realize it was a good time to replace the pipeline.

They’re now wrapping up Phase 1 of the Southern Extension Replacement project, replacing the pipeline from Red Deer to Lacombe. Work on Phase 2, from Lacombe to Gwynne, a hamlet east of Wetaskiwin, will likely start this summer, and Phase 3, from Gwynne to Viking, is scheduled for 2011.

“We’re replacing it to ensure long-term security of supply to all those communities and all of our customers in that area,” Arndt said.

Along the way, there are more than 200 delivery points for distribution companies, be they ATCO Gas or co-ops, to take gas to individual homes and businesses. Natural gas producers also use the line to bring their product to market.

“We find the pipe we install today with current technology and current methods, we’d like to think we can maintain them almost indefinitely,” Arndt said.

He added that ATCO expects no service interruptions during the work.

No project budget was immediately available.

mgauk@bprda.wpengine.com