From the 2nd to the 4th of May, representatives of the international gas, oil, water, and product pipeline sectors met in Berlin at the Pipeline Technology Conference (ptc), the largest event for the industry in Europe.
Dr. Klaus Ritter, chairman of the conference and president of the EITEP Institute, opened the event with the following words: “The extremely high number of international participants from all sectors of the industry will allow us to not only intensify intercountry exchange of experience, but also, in particular, the exchange of experience between operators of gas, oil, water, and product pipeline systems.”
An internationally prominent advisory committee selected a total of 80 presentations in 20 technical sessions and an accompanying scientific poster show from the 164 submissions. The thematic focus was on automation, coating, composite repair, construction, decommissioning, inline inspection, integrity management, leak detection, offshore technologies, planning & design, repair, safety, standards & regulations, and trenchless technologies.
For the first time, the content of the safety session was arranged by the DVGW (German Association of Gas and Water).
In addition to the established focus on operations and repairs, pipeline construction is also taking on an increasingly important role at the ptc. For the first time, the International Pipeline & Offshore Contractors Association (IPLOCA) held its Regional Meeting as part of the ptc. On the first day of the conference, participants in the meeting were also invited to visit the accompanying exhibition, where they were able to learn about new developments from a variety of construction-specific exhibitors.
With its own Job & Career Market for employers and job applicants and a few new exhibitors, the accompanying exhibition has once again grown in size. Visitors were able to learn about new developments and have in-depth discussions at a total of 58 stands. 90% of the exhibitors have already announced their plans to participate in the next ptc.
The entire conference program offered a range of networking opportunities. On the evening before the conference, the 43 members of the Advisory Committee, together with the speakers, session chairs, and exhibitors, were invited by the organizer to a Pre-Conference Reception. The following evening, the traditional get-together sponsored by the ROSEN Group was held as part of the exhibition. A special highlight was a dinner at the Wasserwerk Berlin, where the historic industrial architecture of the 100-year-old pumping station provided a unique backdrop for an unforgettable meal, complete with musical entertainment.
The ptc again featured two high-profile panel discussions at the beginning and end of the conference.
Opening Panel Discussion “New Players within Market Areas - New Opportunities for Energy Customers?”
The discussion was chaired by Heinz Watzka, Chairman of the ptc Advisory Committee and Senior Advisor of the EITEP Institute. The participants were Stephan Kamphues from Open Grid Europe / ENTSOG, Arno Büx from Fluxys, Ulrich Lissek from Nord Stream 2, and Dr. Joachim Pfeiffer, energy policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary parties. Stephan Kamphues, the keynote speaker, tackled the issue of the European internal market versus Germany’s Energy Transition, and pointed out that an integrated solution using an electricity and gas network would be the most flexible solution. The “all-electric-world” idea propagated in Germany, i.e. the extensive replacement of fossil fuels by electricity, cannot be implemented using present infrastructure. It is only through the combination of power and gas networks that the security of supply and the ability to compensate for volatile renewable energy sources can be achieved. New projects such as the Nord Stream 2 partnership with Russia and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline TAP, which is capable of connecting new deposits in the eastern Mediterranean / Egypt with Europe, are indispensable. Liquid natural gas could provide an alternative, but the proposed CO2 reduction targets would have to be examined very closely to determine the extent to which an unfavorable environmental balance would have to be accepted, due to the rather elaborate recovery techniques, liquefaction, ship transport, and regasification processes involved. A recent study on this topic was presented on the last conference day as part of the “World Pipeline Outlook” session. The accompanying paper is available free of charge online, as are all of the other technical papers presented.
Closing Panel Discussion “Safety and Communication”
The Session Chair Asle Venas, DNV GL, introduced the final panel discussion on the topic of “Safety and Communication” by noting that there is growing public resistance to pipeline projects. The participants were Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schmidt from the Center of Safety Excellence, Erik Cornelissen from ROSEN, Michael Bellamy from PII, Dirk Strack from Transalpine Pipeline (TAL), and former PHMSA Chairman Brigham McCown. The participants agreed that the transportation of energy via pipelines is, from a purely statistical point of view, the safest option when compared to other means of transport. However, these figures alone are not sufficient, since individuals’ perceptions of risk are different and not always rationally justifiable, often involving not only safety, but rather a generally critical attitude towards fossil fuels. Therefore, it is important to report on success stories such as the Transalpine Pipeline, which has operated for 50 years without an incident, and to proactively present this image to the public. “Zero Incidents” is the driving goal of the entire industry.
Workshops and seminars on “Pipeline Leak Detection” and “In-Line Inspection of Onshore and Offshore Pipelines” followed the end of the ptc at noon on the 4th of May.
The 13th Pipeline Technology Conference will be held again in Berlin from the 12th to the 14th of March, 2018. The conference will be held next year in parallel with the “Pipe and Sewer Conference,” as part of the new “Pipeline-Pipe-Sewer Technology Conference & Exhibition.” More information on opportunities to participate can be found at www.pipeline-conference.com. In addition, a “Pipeline-Pipe-Sewer-Technology Conference & Exhibition”, in which the ptc will play a large role, will be held in Cairo, Egypt from the 17th to the 19th of September (www.pipelinepipesewer.com).