Peoples Gas Brings In “Special Teams” to Make a Play Before the Big Game


It’s nearly time for Super Bowl LV to kick off, and all over Tampa workers have been sprucing up streets, wrapping up construction and making sure things will run safely and smoothly. Preparations are essential for an event the scale of the Super Bowl, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic where safety is the primary concern of everyone involved. Even Peoples Gas is getting into the game.

Methane detection vehicles
Peoples Gas’ new starters: Ford Escapes outfitted with state-of-the-art emissions detection equipment.

While Tom Brady and the Buccaneers hit the field to get ready, our own MVP, Wael Khoury, Engineer I, hit the road in one of our new methane detection vehicles. These vehicles are going to be game changers for Peoples Gas. The Ford Escapes are outfitted with MobileGuard, a cutting-edge, laser-based analyzer that uses special software and wind speed calculations to pinpoint natural gas leaks by locating methane emissions. The sensitive sensors can detect with ultra-high precision – parts per billion, as compared with our handheld leak detection equipment which detects parts per million. That means they will detect methane emissions that you can’t smell and would otherwise go unnoticed. And, the system is smart enough to know if the methane detected is from natural gas or other sources like biogas from sewers.

Khoury made three passes around Raymond James Stadium and surrounding streets and compared the results from the automatically generated reports and found no anomalies. “Our new methane detection vehicles are going to change how we work to improve the integrity of our system,” said Khoury. “We have the opportunity to trace leaks before they become a potential hazard, while being in the safe confines of a vehicle.”

Lance Horton, Sr. Manager, Engineering and Construction Technical Services, has been eager to see the vehicles in action. “After some test runs in 2020, we are looking forward to targeting densely populated municipalities and downtown districts this year,” said Horton. “Since the vehicles are so sensitive, we will be able to pinpoint emission sources that are hundreds of feet away from our natural gas mains.”

Methane detection vehicle on the road
A cutting-edge, laser-based analyzer uses special software and wind speed calculations to pinpoint natural gas leaks by locating methane emissions.

Horton and Khoury don’t anticipate the vehicles being used for day-to-day leak investigations. MobileGuard will likely roll out to areas affected by severe weather, to check the system for leaks or damage that may have gone undetected, as well as areas where we are installing new or replacing legacy pipe. The vehicles also will be used to patrol areas near major events, like the upcoming Gasparilla Parade of Pirates scheduled for April in Tampa.

With these new vehicles as part of our starting lineup, Peoples Gas has got the right players to stay on the offense against natural gas leaks and other hazards that could compromise our system. Let’s hear it for the home team!