Using pipeline integrity rule for pipeline inspections

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Courtesy of ABS Consulting

Historically, transportation of oil and gas by pipelines remains the safest and most economical mode compared with other modes. However, pipeline integrity does cause a concern to the public and environment along the pipeline route because it is ever present at the location for its useful life. U.S. pipeline failure incidents in the late ’90s accelerated the process of mandating pipeline integrity rules, which, when implemented, will assure safe, reliable and environmentally responsible operation of oil and gas pipelines.

The pipeline integrity rule for Hazardous Liquid (CFR 49 § 195.452) and Natural Gas
(CFR 49 § 192 Subpart O) became effective May 29, 2001, and Jan. 14, 2004, respectively. These regulations are a result of seven years of technical studies that focused on the causes of failure in pipelines and the best practices in mitigating these failure causes. These studies identified 21 failure causes, which were categorized into the following nine categories — corrosion external, corrosion internal, stress corrosion cracking, pipe manufacturing defects, pipe fabrication defects, equipment failure, third-party damage, incorrect operation and natural forces.

As the U.S. pipeline industry started to implement the new rules, API, ASME and National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) International standard bodies presented a host of standards to comply with the pipeline integrity rules. These standards are now being adopted by international pipeline operators as a benchmark, especially in countries where no local regulations on pipeline integrity exist. Internationally, some of the major operators have already developed advanced models of pipeline integrity management programs based on the standards.

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