Pipelines are the veins of a worldwide energy system, serving industry and clients with all kinds of liquids and hazardous fluids and gases. In the 1920s to 1950s they have been built with a commercial lifetime of 25 to 30 years, but today some of the systems are reaching their 100 years of operation anniversary. The main bulk of high pressure transmission lines in the oil and gas industry will have their 50 or 70 years anniversary. Aging infrastructure per se is no problem for safe operation as long as best maintenance
procedures and methods are applied.
Today’s successful operation within the oil and gas industry is based on the triangle “Safety - Reliability - Profitability (Efficiency)”. It is of high importance to properly balance these different and sometimes opposite positions.
High technological and operational standards guarantee safety for human and environment. Innovative technologies ensure security of supply and grant reliability. Competitive service provides efficient transmission conditions for the client and stands for profitability.
Different company management systems support the a. m. triangle. A well-advanced Pipeline Integrity System (PIMS) is a major success factor for integrity within technics, organisation and information within the organisation of the transportation system operator (TSO). The relevant standards and codes in Europe (DIN EN 16348) establish the targets of a PIMS with PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) methodologies, relevant documentation, well-defined organizational structures, safety aspect/targets/programs, communication and the development of clear and smart KPIs.
Despite its high population density, Germany reaches the highest safety figures (oil and gas transmission systems) compared to international records and publications. Key for this positive trend is the establishment of a well-advanced PIMS with regular third-party checks and experience exchange between the different operators and their associations (DGMK and DVGW).
A further increase of safety and therefore decrease of accidents and incidents may be reached with a strong exchange of experience between operators, service companies and manufacturers and furthermore the regulator as the external and responsible part of the a. m. triangle. Long-term commercial cooperation between operators and manufacturers are further possibilities to overcome lack of knowledge due todemographic challenges.
It must be a clear and communicated target for the responsible TSOs to establish international platforms for the proposed experience exchange and integration of relevant authorities and regulators. Based on well-advanced and creative communication, this challenge also may improve the missing acceptance of our society (public perception) in respect of pipeline projects and future energy demands. Some few events already take care of this idea but the international pipeline community still has plenty of room for further improvement.
This edition of ptj focuses on new developments in intelligent data management from ILI runs, advanced PIMS methods and new sensors and procedures for improving pipeline integrity. All these developments are part of a company’s PIMS and the triangle mentioned above and will support TSOs in keeping their license to operate.
EITEP Senior Advisor
former Technical Director of Open Grid Europe