Network-wide Benefits for a Natural Gas Utility

Problem:

For years, a major Canadian natural gas distribution company struggled with frequent servicing of the more than 20,000 plug valves on it's network. Every 12-18 months, operators would have to lubricate and turn the valves. In extreme Canadian temperatures (-30 degrees Celcius or colder) operators were tempted to remain in their trucks rather than service the plug valves.

The company began to experience serious problems from this lack of maintenance as valves seized and could not be operated.

In the event of a fire, tight shutoff is critical. The company had to pay $1 million over three years in order to comply with safety requirements and ensure that all of the plug valves on its network were fully operational and safe.

Extreme conditions tempted operators to remain in their trucks
Extreme conditions tempted operators to remain in their trucks

Without routine maintenance, the plug valves began to seize and could not be operated

Boehmer ball valves

Solution:

The natural gas distributor’s research facility had previously purchased three buried service Boehmer ball valves from Armour Valve. These valves were evaluated for use in a project involving the sectioning of a central network into smaller networks to contain disturbances to a specific area.

The Boehmer ball valves proved reliable in testing and were proposed as potential replacements for the high-maintenance plug valves.

The valves were considered as an attractive solution due for the following reasons:

  • Fully welded and forged body provided a benefit over a bolted body valve
  • Maintenance-free under normal conditions
  • Spring-supported seat rings ensure tight sealing at low pressures
  • Trunnion mounted ball has self-lubricating bearing
  • Anti-blow out stems ensure stem sealing through various independent sealing systems
  • Anti-static design is fire safe and can be provided with emergency sealant if requested

Impact:

The company gradually replaced the plug valves on their network with Boehmer ball valves.

While this was a major undertaking that took place over years, the benefits of switching to a solution requiring no routine maintenance have been experienced by stakeholders across the company’s distribution network.

End users benefited from a safer and more reliable service; maintenance personnel no longer had to annually lubricate 20,000 valves, often in temperatures well below freezing; and the company mitigated a costly compliance and, more importantly, a safety risk.

The benefits of switching to a solution requiring no routine maintenance have been experienced by stakeholders across the company’s distribution network