Purging of a gas pipeline is the process of displacing the air/nitrogen by natural gas in an accepted constant practice in the natural gas pipeline industry. It is done when pipelines are put into service. Gas Pipelines are also purged out of service. In this case they are filled with air or other neutral gases.

Traditionally, “purging” a newly constructed pipeline system is carried out by introducing high pressure gas into one end of the pipeline section to force air out of the pipeline through the outlet until 100% gas is detected at the outlet end. While this technique will achieve the purpose of purging air out of the pipeline, it gives little or no consideration to minimizing the emission of methane gas into the atmosphere.

With the advances of the pipeline simulation technology, it is possible through simulation to develop a process to minimize the gas to air interface and thereby minimize the emission of methane gas. In addition, simulation can also be used to predict the timing of purging and loading of the pipeline. Therefore, scheduling of manpower and other activities can be more accurately interfaced.

In this paper a brief background to purging together with a summary of current industry practices are provided. A simplified purging calculation method is described and a simulation technique using commercially available software is provided for planning purging and loading operations of gas pipeline systems. An Example is provided of a recently constructed pipeline (Mayakan Gas Pipeline System) in Mexico to demonstrate how the planning process was developed and carried out through the use of this simulation technique. Simulation results are compared with field data collected during the actual purging and loading of the Mayakan Pipeline.

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