An innovative new technology designed to isolate gas pipelines in need of repair or maintenance has shown remarkable results in preventing gas leakages and significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The technology, known as Remote Tecno Plug (RTP) developed by STATS Group, has demonstrated a 95 per cent reduction in emissions compared to the conventional method of venting pipeline contents into the atmosphere.

This reduction is equivalent to the environmental impact of switching off 1,760 gas boilers for an entire year or taking 1,000 cars off the road.

National Gas, a company that owns and operates a vast network of over 7,600km of gas pipelines underground, successfully utilised the RTP in a recent project near St Cyrus in Scotland.

The technology was deployed to minimise emissions during pipeline isolation, an essential process used by operators to prevent gas leakage while conducting maintenance and upgrades.

Traditionally, isolation involves reducing the volume of gas in the pipeline through recompression, followed by venting the remaining gas into the atmosphere.

However, the efficient use of the RTP allowed the work to be completed more quickly, with zero leaks during operations. As a result, safety was improved, and overall greenhouse gas emissions were significantly reduced.

By adopting the RTP, project managers estimated that emissions would have amounted to 233 tonnes of gas. However, the technology reduced emissions to a mere 9.5 tonnes, leading to substantial cost savings of over £100,000 ($126,257) in gas that would have otherwise been wasted.

 Encouraged by this success, National Gas has decided to implement a policy promoting the use of this technology in future isolation projects across the UK. There is also the potential for other gas distribution networks in the UK to adopt these tools in the future.

The UK has a legal commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 as part of its efforts to combat climate change. However, gas continues to play a vital role in the country, providing energy for lighting and fueling various industries. It also contributes to the nation's energy security, ensuring resilience during periods of high demand or system pressures.

The gas industry is working towards meeting energy demands while striving to make improvements that align with climate targets. The implementation of innovative technologies such as the RTP is a significant step in that direction.

Kirsty McDermott, Senior Engineer at National Gas, said: “Using plugs like the RTP can greatly reduce emissions for temporary pipeline isolations, and on this project emissions were reduced by up to 24 times compared to traditional recompression methods.

“In addition to the environmental and economic benefits relative to reduced venting requirements, carrying out the trial work allowed us to interrogate the integrity of our pipelines and ensure they continue to deliver energy to where it’s needed across the UK.”

Neil Mackay, Group Senior Business Development Manager at STATS, said: “This was the first use of our innovative pipeline isolation plug technology on the National Transmission System and following the successful outcome on the Project, National Gas will update existing policies making use of isolation tools business as usual, which in turn will reduce barriers, increase efficiency and enable more critical maintenance work to be completed”.

The RTP technology developed by STATS Group has already proven its effectiveness by successfully sealing a 56km-long, 48-inch pipeline, providing a leak-proof and fail-safe isolation.

It maintained full pressurisation at 55 bar during its initial use on the National Transmission System, surpassing traditional methods such as venting or recompression.

The technology offers secure double blocking and monitored isolation, enabling safe and efficient maintenance activities like welding.

To ensure the reliability and safety of the technology, extensive integrity tests were conducted during both operational and independent evaluations by Specialist Engineering 3rd Parties DNV and Pipeline Integrity Engineers (PIE). These tests have paved the way for future projects to consider the use of isolation tools in various applications.

This solution not only prevents gas leakages but also contributes to cost savings and aligns with the UK's commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. With its proven success, the use of RTP and similar technologies is expected to become more widespread in the gas industry, ensuring a greener and more sustainable future.