PG&E Strengthens Pipeline Safety with Cutting-Edge Inspection Technology

Customized "smart pig" in-line inspection tool by 3P Services will help to improve safety and integrity of pipelines

SAN FRANCISCO – Building on its efforts to enhance pipeline safety throughout Northern and Central California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced that it will add a new, customized in-line inspection device to its growing suite of technology used in the field. Working from inside of natural gas pipelines, this cutting-edge "smart pig" provides a highly efficient and accurate way to determine the condition of PG&E's natural gas transmission system - the arteries of the system that heats and powers customers' homes and businesses. 

Built by 3P Services, the custom "smart pig" is unique and unlike standard inspection tools, navigates tight bends and turns in pipelines ranging from 30" to 36" in diameter.  Designed and produced especially for PG&E's system, the "smart pig" will provide highly sophisticated data about the pipeline's condition. The tool is currently in development at 3P Services in Lingen, Germany.

"Ensuring that our pipelines are in safe operating condition is our most important job. 'Smart pig' technology tremendously enhances our ability to perform routine inspection and maintenance system-wide faster, more efficiently and with greater confidence," said Nick Stavropoulos, executive vice president, PG&E Gas Operations.

The flexible, multi-diameter "smart pig" travels through the pipeline, using a combination of sensor technologies to collect information that is then analyzed to assess the condition of the pipe. It can identify dents, corrosion, and other defects that could compromise the safety of the pipeline. If any defects are found on a segment of pipe, PG&E will excavate to repair or replace the segments. "Smart pigs" are just one of many tools PG&E is using to monitor for potential leaks and safeguard its natural gas system in Northern and Central California. 

"Our work with PG&E is based on the solitary goal of strengthening PG&E's overall, multi-faceted safety strategy with innovative technology. The highly detailed data obtained from our 'smart pigs' provides PG&E engineers with accurate and reliable information in which to make informed decisions about how best to keep their pipeline network safe," said Dr. Daniel Schaper, Head of Research and Development, 3P Services.

PG&E uses "smart pigs" throughout its service area. Delivery of 3P Services' multi-diameter "smart pig" is expected late summer 2013 following testing in Germany.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit

About 3P Services

For more than 20 years, 3P Services is a pipeline inspection company in the petroleum, petrochemical and chemical industries and is focused on the in-line inspection services of so called "un-piggable" pipelines for both onshore and offshore pipelines. Located in Germany, 100 professionals cover the wide spectrum of activities necessary to ensure the high standard of quality in service. Further details can be found at:


Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

Contact: PG&E External Communications - (415) 973-5930

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