Inspectioneering Journal

Update on Pipeline Management and Rules and Pipeline Integrity Management Systems (PIMS)

This article appears in the September/October 2010 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

“...........As the oil and gas industry matured regulators and the public have become more and more aware of the risks inherent in the business and increasingly require pipeline owners to demonstrate and document the safe and environmentally acceptable operation of their facilities. Until recently, these requirements for pipelines were purely prescriptive, relying on technical regulations to impose safe and clean operations on the operator. Ensuring compliance involved intensive efforts from regulators, certification bodies and within the operating companies in carrying out regular statutory inspections, verifications and re-certifications. This prescriptive approach has some basic drawbacks. On the one hand, it is extremely difficult to legislate for every conceivable risk and new risks can arise, such as the threat from terrorism and, on the other hand, blindly following prescriptive legislation, which by nature attempts to err on the side of caution, may lead to unnecessary expense for the pipeline operators. Further, this approach tends to break the pipeline industry into components and activities, rather than viewing it as an integrated whole. This can lead to problems at interfaces, takes no account of corporate operating philosophy and leads to the compartmentalization of data and information.

To take account of the drawbacks of this traditional prescriptive approach the USA and Europe developed a more proactive risk-based approach which is now being implemented, where the pipeline operators are required to view their pipeline systems as an integrated whole and demonstrate its safe, secure and environmentally acceptable operation throughout the pipeline life cycle. This PIMS concept is now described in a number of management system standards, specifically:

  • CEN TS 15173 a Frame of Reference regarding PIMS
  • CEN TS 15174 A guideline for Safety Management Systems for natural gas transmission pipelines
  • ANSI/ASME B31.8S-2004 Managing System Integrity of Gas Pipelines

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