How the 2021 Texas Freeze Affected Commercial Gas Pipelines

Oil pipeline, industrial equipment

Most Texas residents will look back at early 2021 as a winter to remember. Brutal cold weather surprised many Texas residents in late January and early February and brought chaos, tragedy, and confusion. From residents ice skating in their pool to families huddling in their cars to keep warm, to tragic deaths due to power outages, Texas has a lot of unanswered questions about what happened in February of 2021. While some of it is still being untangled, we thought we’d look at some of the most fascinating aspects of the Texas freeze and the importance of safe commercial pipelines.

Did Texas Commercial Pipelines Freeze? 

There seems to be some confusion as to what happened in Texas in those arid days of February. Many were quick to point fingers and start blaming all energy sectors for the blunders.  And yet, oil and gas pipeline experts tend to agree that even the unprecedented cold temperatures in Texas could not freeze gas in pipelines. In order to turn methane from a gas to a liquid, temperatures would need to drop to about negative 83 degrees Celsius.

 Managing director of analytics at BTU Analytics, Tony Scott said to the Austin Statesman “To take it as literal, that natural gas is frozen in the pipelines, would require temperatures  that I don’t think have ever been found on the surface of this earth.” 

Natural Gas Pipelines Must Be Buried Underground 

Aside from the agreed-upon contention that natural gas does not freeze easily, there is added insulation to most of these pipelines by virtue of ground coverage. The installation of commercial gas pipelines is cloaked in government regulations that protect consumers and residents. One of the main requirements for pipelines is that they have to be buried underground. 

The U.S. The Department of Transportation requires that all pipelines be buried underground at a minimum of 3 feet.  The pipelines continued to be functional throughout the freeze, but some of the mid-stream infrastructures was the one that suffered problems. This includes the structures that carry fuel from wells to refineries.

All of Energy Transfer’s pipelines follow the U.S. DoT’s requirements. The oil and gas industry is heavily regulated and many protocols exist to ensure the most preparedness. 

What Really Happened in Texas? 

While there is still much to investigate and many in various industries continue to investigate and answer questions to Texas lawmakers, some explanations have emerged. 

According to the Texas Tribune, for example, the failures extended far beyond one sector. It was partly the natural gas operations, supply chains, energy grids, and varying infrastructure. This included frozen gas wells and wind turbines. The problem really came in the natural gas-fired power plants. 

Electricity also went out and this caused a cascade of bad events where all industries were in gridlock.  

Temperatures in the state dipped lower than they had been in many decades. Dallas went down to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the coldest temperature that the city had experienced since 1989. 

The Change in Texas Energy 

Many discussions about why Texas could withstand the 1989 freeze and fail in 2021 were about how Texas energy systems have changed, as well as population, demand, and power sources. As the Houston Chronicle points out, in the last 13 years, the power grid increased from 45 percent to 47 percent gas. The Texas power grid has also gone from 38 percent coal and 2 percent wind to 20 percent coal and 20 percent wind. 

The change indicates the higher dependability in natural gas and in wind power. 

 Another factor that may have affected and contributed to the Texas freeze has to do with the heavy influx of people into the Lone Star State. Since the 1980s, the population went from 16.8 million to 29.4 million. That means the population has almost doubled. 

What Improvements Will Be Made to the State’s Infrastructure?

After the chaotic events of February 2021, a lot of questions were posed to responsible parties. The governor has signed a series of bills that will likely create more oversight and improve the conditions of a lot of this infrastructure. Senate Bills 2 and 3 will overhaul the state’s power grid and make changes to how these agencies are governed.  

Trust Only Experienced and Established Professionals for Commercial Gas Lines 

The freezing weather in Texas certainly reminded everybody about the importance of our energy and industrial infrastructure. Something like commercial gas lines should be done only by professionals with the assurance of following all restrictions and rules. 

If you need industrial services for your industrial facility, call Wyler Industrial. From pressure piping to boiler repair to commercial gas lines, we got you covered. 

The History of Mechanical Engineering and How it Moves the World

Mechanical engineer working install chilled water pipe system. Engineer consult discussion with team work for install pipe.

Engineers are defined as people that make things. They are the ones that figured out how to make a car, how to fly a plane, how to go to the moon, and how to create intelligent software. Engineers are trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines. A mechanical engineer is involved in the design and construction of power-producing machines. Here at Wyler Industrial, we work for the industrial world and have mechanical engineers in our staff and have frequent contact with them and their machines and/or supplies. So we thought we’d take a look at this amazing profession that powers so much of the world around us.

Mechanical engineering is all about machines, how they function, how they can be improved, and how they can improve work capacity. It involves the principles of physics, engineering, mathematics, and material science to analyze, design, and manufacture mechanical systems.  The industry includes everything from machines, power systems, factory production lines, computers, boilers, and pressure vessels. 

Mechanical Engineering begins when the Industrial Revolution begins. Because as human beings began to depend and look to machines to increase the work output and make production more efficient and reliable, the world of mechanical engineering opened up to incredible possibilities. As we have mentioned in previous blogs, the invention of the steam engine was monumental for the industrial revolution. James Watt is often coined the father of mechanical engineering because it was that particular invention that gave way to many more important developments of the industrial revolution and beyond.  His invention was also central in the development of the profession of mechanical engineering. The steam engine gave way to modes of transportation that included steam locomotives and self-propelled boats. This led to the soon-to-be fast-growing network of railroad tracks, canals. Not long after, the invention of the automobile also created a big demand for mechanical engineers, especially as the auto industry was in its infancy and developing new technologies. 

Mechanical Engineers Join the War Effort

Both in World War I and World War II, mechanical engineers and engineers in general, were very important to the war effort and developing necessary machinery, aircraft, weapons, and more to help win the war. During World War II especially, mechanical engineers contributed to the design and improvement of fighter airplanes, tanks, vehicles, machines, and more. The first computers, developed around this time, were very much mechanical devices with electronics. A lot of these early mechanical computers were funded by military projects that were looking to get an edge on the enemy and figure out firing trajectories of artillery shells. During this time, mechanical engineers worked together to develop the jet engine and space rocket. 

Unforgettable Inventors and Inventions from Mechanical Engineers 

Throughout history, engineers working on developing power machines have had a tremendous impact on our society. Here are just a few notable names and inventions and discoveries in the field of mechanical engineering:

  • Nikola Tesla: Testa is well known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. He also contributed to radio technologies and is often known as the father of radio. 
  • George Stephenson: This was a British inventor who created the first inner-city railway system. He is known as the father of railways. This, of course, reshaped the transportation industry. 
  • Aurel Stdola: Began the study of thermodynamics and was even a professor of Albert Einstein himself. He most notably invented the first heat pump and contributed to the beginning of steam and gas turbines. 

ASME and ASME Certified Industrial Suppliers 

Here at Wyler Industrial Works, we are an ASME certified Repair Team. What is ASME? It stands for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is a non-profit membership organization that enables collaboration and knowledge toward the goal of helping the global engineering community. ASME’s mission statement is to advance engineering for the benefit of humanity. When choosing a repair team for your industrial needs, look to Wyler Industrial who is ASME certified. 

ASME has been a leading resource for mechanical engineers for many decades. They publish codes, regulations, changes, and other relevant information for a variety of industries. Their informational publications always are written into state and federal regulations. They have the legendary Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code, where they issued their very detailed first code. 

Get the Right Repair Services With Wyler Industrial 

As an ASME certified repair service, Wyler Industrial will provide high-quality repairs and services for all of your industrial needs. We have been a full-service for the Southwest for over 100 years. After all, we started with a machinist in the 1880s, who owned a bicycle shop that would soon turn into a spare parts store and slowly grew and transformed into what it is today. 

Do I Need a Pressure Piping System?

pressure piping

For industry owners, the simple answer is yes. If you have power boilers or heating boilers, then you need pipes that can handle them. Pressure piping is slightly different from regular piping based on the amount of pressure it can handle for one. Pressure comes from the amount of water and the speed of the water running through the pipe. Regular pipes designed for homes do not have a lot of pressure, as they are not used as much. They also cannot handle high-pressure gasses or vapors. Regardless of your property type, having a certified team who can work with these pipes makes a huge difference in the safety and longevity of your pipes.

Safety Should Always Come First for Pressure Piping

Given that these pipes must function under immense pressure, you want to keep them well maintained. Imagine the damage that comes from a regular pipe bursting or cracking. Now imagine if that pipe is filled with dangerous gasses, vapors or boiling water. What might have been a minor problem can become a huge problem with potential for serious injury. When you have an experienced team working to maintain or repair your high-pressure pipes, you reduce the risk of injury to your crew.

Efficiency is Key

Having the proper care for your pressure piping systems helps ensure your company stays efficient. No pipe is perfect and sometimes things go wrong. A minor hairline crack may not seem like a huge problem until your product starts to slow. When you have a quality team working on your pipes, they can help you avoid any major problems. Getting a team that can supply the proper replacement parts also helps keep your company running smoothly.

Look for the ASME Certification

Being ASME certified means being committed to the safety and excellence of service. ASME is a QA Standard that represents a dedication to quality and adherence to recent safety codes. Meaning that the company is up to date on all safety procedures and codes. It also indicates that the work done in the creation of parts is safe and consistent. When a company has this type of certification, it means you can trust them to do a quality job on your pipes.

Learn More About Pressure Piping

For your industry’s piping needs, choose Wyler Industrial Inc. We are certified by ASME to work with pressure piping systems and have years of experience here in El Paso. We have the knowledge you need and want to keep your piping working for you. Call us today for an appointment.