Pipeline Right of Way Monitoring and Notification System

Pipeline Right-of-Way Monitoring and Notification System Prevents Damage and Improves Safety of Natural Gas Pipelines in California.

Institute of Gas Technology dba GTI Energy


Des Plaines, IL

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

This project was completed in 2018 and the final report was received. A natural gas pipeline ROW monitoring system was successfully designed, engineered, and tested on SoCalGas pipelines. Various types of sensors were deployed and tested, and the pipeline was hydro-tested during the installation period, allowing calibration data to be captured. A solar power option was successfully demonstrated for the sensors. Three sensor stations were installed over a length of roughly 4,000 feet of new pipeline. The system is currently running and providing sensor data with additional financial support from Operations Technology Development and Pipeline and the Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. GTI had not obtained a contractual partner to help commercialize the product, but several non-California utilities expressed interest in hosting test sites.

The Issue

The greatest threat to buried natural pipelines is the operation of non-utility company excavation equipment within the pipeline's legal right-of-way (ROW), resulting in accidental damage. Damage to the pipeline can have severe safety consequences, including fire, explosion, and loss of life. Pipeline damage can also lead to natural gas leaks thereby increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and disruption of natural gas delivery to customers. A system that could provide advanced notice of potentially damaging activities would benefit both gas utility operators as well as the public at large.

Project Innovation

This project designed, tested, and demonstrated a system that automatically monitors the pipeline's ROW and notifies gas utility operators of encroachment threats. The deployment of this system will allow utilities to mitigate risk to their pipelines by being better informed of where and when threats are occurring. The monitoring system had sensor stations placed along 4,000 feet of new pipeline at several discrete locations in the ROW. Mobile sensor packages were deployed on excavation equipment to alert operators when the equipment approached the pipeline ROW. Also, data communication links between the stationary sensors, mobile sensors, data loggers, weblinks, and user dashboard were established. A web hosted user interface was developed to display alarm conditions and send notifications to alert utility personnel. The system demonstrated that it was possible for a user to "see" a pipeline ROW, its surrounding environment, and the locations and status of the sensors in real-time.

Project Benefits

This project led to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome barriers to the achievement of the State of California's statutory energy goals by preventing excavation damage to natural gas pipelines. By making it possible to retrofit the ROW monitor system one excavation at a time, it is practical and cost-effective for utility operators to deploy it.

Lower Costs


The extreme historical incidents of transmission pipeline in California have cost more than $600 million. The pipeline monitoring system can alert threats at early stage and significantly reduce the amount of extreme incidents. The reduction in extreme incidents of pipelines would further lower the overall cost.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The monitoring system reduces incidents of damage that cause the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere. Based on the transmission line incidents that resulted in the release of natural gas given in MCF from 2010 to the present (source: DOT PHMSA), the deployment of the monitoring system could annually lower the emissions by 29,516 MCF.

Greater Reliability


This system improves reliability and damage prevention of natural gas pipeline infrastructure by reducing the probability of incidents that would require repairs to the system or produce outages. Such incidents include the failure to detect corrosion (internal or external), cracks, dents, gouges, defective welds, or other anomalies.

Increase Safety


The greatest benefit of ROW monitoring to California ratepayers is improved safety by reducing the risk of incidents from natural gas pipeline damage. This technology provides utility operators the ability to remotely monitor activity in the ROW and the activity of excavation machinery. This provides timely notification to utility operators and assists in the prevention of damage to gas pipelines.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Chris Ziolkowski



Leidos Engineering


Contact the Team