After Katrina, New Orleans Gas Rebuild Ahead of Pace

December 2009 Vol. 236 No. 12

Entergy New Orleans, Inc. reached a three-year milestone this month by rebuilding 135 miles of gas lines throughout the city–ahead of schedule and under budget.

In addition, the effort, launched in 2007 as the world’s largest gas rebuild following Hurricane Katrina, has improved gas service reliability to Entergy New Orleans’ customers by reducing water-related outages by 50 percent since 2006.

“Although the system was functional just after Hurricane Katrina, the corrosive effects of the brackish floodwaters presented issues for future natural gas service availability and reliability,” said Rod West, president and chief executive officer of Entergy New Orleans, Inc. “Entergy New Orleans approached this rebuild as an opportunity to replace the damaged system with the latest technology to provide optimal, cost-efficient service to our customers.”

Entergy New Orleans is approximately $5 million under budget during the first phase of the project, while the initial forecast of 130 miles of pipe replacement in the first three years is slightly ahead of schedule, with more than 135 miles of the system already replaced.

Entergy New Orleans is replacing cast iron and steel pipes with high-density polyethylene gas pipes while also converting the low-pressure gas system to a high-pressure system. The new gas pipe resists saltwater corrosion and is quicker to repair compared to the cast iron or steel traditionally used for gas systems, while the high-pressure system is virtually impervious to flooding.

The company is also using directional drilling technology and modern distribution piping, causing less disruption to customers.

“We do not have to dig up streets or entire sidewalks and it’s approximately 40 percent cheaper per mile than installing steel pipe with open trenching.” said Sherri Winslow, vice president of Entergy’s gas business. “We also moved the location of most main lines from the street to the sidewalk or grassy areas, which allows other utilities like the city to make street repairs without causing any disruption or duplication of efforts.”

Based on its strategic planning, efficiency and timeliness, McGraw-Hill’s Platts, the leading international energy information provider, recently recognized Entergy New Orleans’ gas rebuild project as Global Infrastructure Project of the Year on Dec. 3 at a ceremony in New York City.