All Pipeline Infrastructure in Appalachia at Risk

All Pipeline Infrastructure in Appalachia at Risk
Despite the dangers, operators have an opportunity to take mitigative action.

Quite literally all of the pipeline infrastructure – as well as roads, electric transmission, and other assets - in the Appalachia area is at risk due to geohazards.

That’s according to Toby Kraft, the CEO and co-founder of Teren, an artificial intelligence machine learning software and geospatial content company.

“We have imagery that shows the highest risk areas, and the region is completely covered,” Kraft told Rigzone. “Our data shows 7,000 geohazards across 9,685 miles of pipeline in 26 counties,” the Teren co-founder added.

The most significant geohazard risks in Appalachia are landslides and erosion, according to Kraft, who said landslides can be caused by a number of things, including hydrology issues (channeling, ponding, etc.), vegetation clearing or overgrowth, and weather events.

Despite the dangers, Kraft outlined that operators have an opportunity to take mitigative action.

“After evaluating their asset risk, identifying the geohazards that exist (landslides/erosion) and why they exist (hydrology, vegetation, etc.), they can take a variety of proactive approaches, including implementing erosion control blankets, altering the landscape to move/divert water flow, implementing sheet piling and drainage techniques such as drain tiles or French drains,” Kraft said.

Looking at an example of mitigation efforts, Kraft highlighted that workers had cleared vegetation, altered/graded the land and added erosion controls.

“These preventative measures are representative of the type used to ensure pipeline infrastructure stays intact,” Kraft said.

According to a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Appalachia region drilling productivity report from February this year, natural gas production has been rising steadily in the region over the past decade. The report shows that Appalachia natural gas output has grown from around six billion cubic feet per day in 2012 to around 36 billion cubic feet per day in 2022. 

A natural gas explainer on the EIA’s website shows that U.S. dry natural gas production in 2020 was about 33.5 trillion cubic feet, which it highlighted broke down into an average of about 91.5 billion cubic feet per day. The explainer noted that the Marcellus shale play in the Appalachian Basin, spanning Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, is the largest source of natural gas from shale.

To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com


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