Within the current environment of low oil prices and heightened public concern about environmental protection, launching new oil and gas exploration projects will remain challenging for the years to come. This in turn will increase the importance of maintaining existing assets.
Throughout its service life, every pipeline is exposed to a wide range of potential damage mechanisms, any of which may eventually result in failure if not identified and mitigated in time. This is of particular significance in countries such as the U.S. and Canada, where more than 50 percent of all crude oil and natural gas pipelines in operation were built in the 1960s or earlier, with some of the oldest being in service for close to a century. Equally, there is no escaping the fact that many of the subsea pipelines around the world are reaching the end of their natural life. Indeed, some are probably already working beyond this point. The majority were brought in to service in the 1970s in places like Europe’s North Sea and the ‘Mumbai High’ fields in India, and as such will need more rigorous maintenance in the coming years.
This aging presents corrosion problems, impact damage, fatigue cracking, etc., that threaten the safety of pipelines. In many cases, the cause of significant accidents can be traced back directly to the state of the pipeline. In fact, corrosion has been reported as the cause of 15 to 20 percent of all reported significant incidents. Therefore, a big issue for today’s pipeline operators is not thinking about new materials, or new joining methods, but how they can maintain pipeline safety and security of supply as their assets age, and they are required to transport more and more product.
While maintaining a pipeline network is always a complex and costly endeavor that requires constant attention, it is even more challenging when dealing with an old asset. In addition to generally increased degradation, material and construction may not comply to modern standards. Furthermore, records of old pipelines are much more likely to be incomplete. However, with a heightened public concern about environmental protection, and the recently established obligation to keep pipeline records accurate, traceable, and verifiable, the pressure on owners and operators is immense. As a consequence, they are continually searching for improved methods and approaches to maintain the integrity of their assets and fill in the blanks in their records.
One of the main goals of any operator’s integrity program is to locate, identify and reduce the threat caused by flaws in their pipeline. Find out how ROSEN reduces the risk and cost of multiple inspections of a pipeline by combining multiple inspection technologies into one inspection tool.