Weighing up the benefits of hot tapping vs the alternatives requires an understanding of what is at stake. From an economic perspective, you have to understand whether it makes commercial sense to perform a hot tap (more of which can be found in the EPA's document, Pipeline Pumpdown Practices and Hot Taps). This article details some of the benefits of hot tapping a gas pipeline compared to the alternatives for pipeline interventions.
Continuous system operation
Plant shutdowns can be incredibly expensive procedures costing plant operators significant sums of money. As such, maintaining operations will always be the preferred option. Hot tapping allows just this with pipeline branch extensions being added to the main pipeline with the operations continuing thus avoiding costly system shutdowns and service interruptions.
No gas released to the atmosphere
The hot tapping process allows engineers to work on live pipelines without leakage of the product. On gas pipelines this means no gas is released into the atmosphere and negates any potential harmful impact.
Avoids costly redesign of pipeline sections and reduces cost of planning
Adding a new branch and valve to an existing pipeline using the hot tapping process is relatively simple task. You will add the fitting and permanent valve to the pipeline and weld it in place and then the machine will connect through the valve and drill out a coupon. The valve is then closed, the hot tapping machine removed and the branch line is connected.
Compared to the alternatives which require a redesign of the pipeline, the closing off of the system and then cutting, aligning and re-welding of the pipeline sections, hot tapping is a quick and low-impact process.
Worker safety is increased
Cutting into a live pipeline that contains product is always going to have an element of risk. Fortunately, developments in technology and procedures have increased the safety of the process making hot tapping an attractive alternative to other methods of pipeline intervention.
Removes the necessity to notify of gas outages
When there is no interruption to the plant and processes can continue as normal, there is no impact on the plant itself but also on the stakeholders who are reliant on the plant providing product. This means the hot tapping process cause zero disturbance to both the plant and it's stakeholders so you'll not have to inform them of any potential interruptions.