With pipeline operators facing increased scrutiny as of late, the conversation must shift to pipeline integrity. Pipeline integrity encompasses three phases: prevention, detection, and mitigation, which together minimize the chances of a crude oil, refined product or gas leak and the ensuing repercussions.
Prevention is the first and foremost strategy when it comes to pipelines.
As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A critical strategy in pipeline integrity, prevention can be split into three subcategories:
- Pipeline Design and construction
- Pipeline Operation and maintenance
- Pipeline Training and education
If prevention methods are compromised, the next stage, detection, becomes priority. Varieties of detection methods are possible, but they can be easily divided into two different approaches: internal and external detection.
The external process involves examining the surrounding area of the pipeline for any signs of a gas leak. The external method of detection continues to be popular due to its accuracy in locating pipeline leaks – even those that are smaller in size. The internal approach to pipeline leak detection focuses on the conditions inside of the pipeline.
Mitigation is the final of the three phases, consisting of efforts to minimize the impact and damage in the event a leak does occur. Unfortunately, as we all know following a 2016 leak incident in the Southeast United States, leaks do still alarmingly occur and when they do a fast-moving mitigation plan is essential to avoid environmental disturbances as well as costly clean-up.
While pipeline integrity can seem daunting, it is not something to dread if you take proper precautions. Implementing a phased methodology for pipeline integrity significantly improves business’ chances of preventing leaks from appearing in the first place as well as the probability of detecting leaks. A streamlined approach to pipeline integrity affords pipeline companies a peace of mind that would otherwise not be present in a world where gas leaks are always a possibility.
By putting effort into the three phases of pipeline integrity, operators will continue to reap the benefits of the best practices for leak detection – strong company reputation, avoided clean-up costs and minimized environmental impact.
Interested in understanding what does and doesn’t work when it comes to Computational Pipeline Monitoring for Gas Pipelines then watch our recent webcast recording.