The Time Is Right For Third-Party Gas Product Certification

By Richard W. Conley, Chief Engineer and Project Manager, Kerotest Manufacturing Corp. | April 2009 Vol. 236 No. 4

Richard W. Conley

A toast, blessing or curse that is purported by some to be a Chinese proverb, states, “May you live in interesting times.” Today, our world is certainly interesting. With an unparalleled world economic slowdown, a crisis of confidence in banking, the stock market collapse, high unemployment, dependence on foreign oil, record deficits and shooting wars on two fronts, our times are about as interesting as we can stand. Today, dull seems like an attractive alternative!

Please do not misunderstand - these “interesting” issues are real problems that our nation must address. However, over time, one learns the flip side of every problem is an opportunity, and - at this point in our nation’s history - this is especially true for the natural gas industry. There are many reasons for this, but among them are:

  1. Our new president has made energy independence a major goal of his administration, including the use of clean sources of energy. Congress will fight over the details but the objective seems bipartisan.
  2. Natural gas is among the cleanest sources of energy currently available to us in the quantity that will make a difference, especially over the near term.
  3. Natural gas is abundant today and significant additional sources have been identified and are available for future needs.
  4. Another of the president’s objectives is to jump-start the economy through job creation. A huge stimulus package has been passed into law and more is expected. The natural gas industry is, in the current vernacular, “shovel-ready” today to respond by expanding current distribution systems and rehabilitating existing systems, both of which are national priorities.

To properly exploit these new opportunities while struggling with the same economic pressures as any other business, the natural gas industry must respond with new and creative approaches - just more of the same will not fly. Our industry, like all others, must continue to learn to do more with less.

We have all been through this for a period of time now and the low hanging fruit has already been picked. We are about done (we hope) with layoffs and early retirements, outsourcing and consolidation.

The next big step for us is to invest in new, cost-effective technologies and products so we can do more with less. The challenge is clear - to continually invest in new products and processes to enhance the safety and productivity of our gas-distribution systems.

The problem, or challenge, is with the word “new.” In this industry, nothing “new” is ever put in the ground without confirmation that the product will first, meet all applicable codes and standards requirements and second, meet all the performance requirements of the user. This product confirmation or evaluation process is not easy. It requires competent, experienced, technical people to: