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Pipelines in Close Proximity to Power Systems

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  • Create Date April 30, 2020
  • Last Updated August 5, 2020

Pipelines in Close Proximity to Power Systems

Induced voltages on the pipelines are modeled so that both the electrical engineer and the pipeline engineer can understand the effects of power systems in close proximity to pipelines.

In recent years, a trend has developed toward building energy corridors which better utilize land resources. Due to the adverse environmental impacts of building electrical power lines by utility companies and the installation of pipelines by the petrochemical industry, many governmental entities are requiring that electric power lines and underground pipelines use the same transmission (energy) corridor.

The energy corridor, by design, is used to minimize the land requirements for transmitting energy-whether by electrical transmission lines or through pipelines. The energy corridor does not necessarily minimize the lengths of transmission lines but, conversely, may require longer lines to utilize the land resources better by paralleling transmission systems. The electric power companies have utilized this practice in the past with electrical corridors and are being pressured to make every effort to parallel electric lines in the future on these same corridors. The effect of paralleling electric circuits has been long understood by the electrical engineer. Induced currents and voltages occur between the electrical circuits and may cause relaying, communications, and safety problems. Proper engineering has led to solutions to most of these problems.

A problem has developed with the addition of pipelines to the electrical corridors or, conversely, electrical lines to the pipeline corridors. The problem is that the pipeline has become part of the electrical circuit due to electrostatic and electromagnetic coupling. This coupling may cause induced currents and voltages to exist on the pipeline. The pipeline is addressed as an electrical circuit.

When a pipeline crew is working close to an electrical line, they are more likely to be aware of it if they are near a line structure. However, when they are working between structures, the crew may carelessly overlook the relative proximity of the electrical line to equipment, such as a crane. A danger exists when a piece of equipment is brought too close to an overhead line due to the fact that most overhead electrical lines are bare and rely on air as the electrical insulation.

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Power Systems in Close Proximity to Pipelines