VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – April 25, 2022 – Over the past decade, Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) has continuously worked to modernize its pipeline infrastructure and has coordinated efforts with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, local governments, excavators and Virginia 811 (VA811) to promote safe digging and build awareness of the damage prevention laws that keep customers and communities safe.
The investments VNG has made in infrastructure upgrades have created some of the safest, most modern pipelines that customers depend on for the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas. By modernizing more than 400 miles of aging, older pipes through the Steps to Advance Virginia’s Energy (SAVE) program, VNG is enhancing the safety and reliability of systems to meet current and future energy needs for generations to come.
VNG is now incorporating innovative technology to help predict and prevent damages to its critical infrastructure. The technology uses artificial intelligence to predict which third-party dig requests are most at risk for potential excavation damage. Developed by Urbint, a technology company that creates solutions to maximize safety and reliability in the critical infrastructure industry, it predicts threats and enables VNG to stop incidents before they happen.
“We’ve made significant resource investments in asset protection, which has helped us continue ongoing improvements in performance,” said David Gatling, VNG asset protection manager. “This predictive technology helps us balance safety and reliability as a means of protection and threat prediction to help reduce third-party excavation damage to our natural gas infrastructure.”
VNG is faced with thousands of excavation projects throughout its service territory every month with team members working to ensure the proper marking of underground assets, and that safe digging procedures are being followed by excavators.
Urbint is another tool to help facilitate resource allocation more intelligently by using data and artificial intelligence to assess the risk and impact of potential incidents. The software assesses risk on risk VA811 dig requests daily, enabling the VNG asset protection team to focus efforts where damages may be more likely to occur.
The technology uses internal data from VNG and data from Urbint on environmental conditions and other factors to provide a risk assessment that includes the likelihood of damages occurring and the possible damage impact of the work to take place.
“The program automatically imports information directly from VA811 and uses predictive analysis to identify and assign risk levels for third-party excavations,” added Gatling. “It can predict and pinpoint any areas of concern using artificial intelligence models to help prevent damages.”
The new technology also helps VNG meet its sustainability goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by predicting where damage could possibly occur and prevent the escape of gas (methane) caused by third-party infrastructure damage.
“Urbint is another innovative tool to help us make better data and risk-driven decisions to further reduce and prevent third-party damages to our infrastructure going forward,” said Gatling. “The intent of this program is to help us take action in the right place, at the right time, before an incident occurs.”
About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the Year five times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and as a Top Workplace in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Nextdoor.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.