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Pipelines

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Pipelines are metal or plastic tubes of varying sizes used to transport crude oil, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids from production areas to refineries and other processing facilities all around the world. Pipelines transport billions of barrels of crude oil and petroleum products each year. These liquids are moved through pipelines by pumping stations placed intermittently along the line.

There are two main types of energy pipelines: liquid petroleum pipelines and natural gas pipelines. Liquid petroleum pipelines carry materials like crude oil and refined petroleum products. Natural gas pipelines carry natural gas, usually to homes and businesses. In the United States alone, there are roughly 200,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines and 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipelines crisscrossing the nation.

If oil and gas is the lifeblood of our mobile world, then pipelines are the arteries and veins. While these assets are necessary for the continued expansion of the global oil and gas network, they do pose significant challenges. Pipelines can be hundreds, if not thousands of miles long, and not only travel under oceans, rivers, lakes, and mountains, but directly under populated towns and cities. This makes proper pipeline integrity management imperative. Pipeline construction, maintenance, inspection, and cleaning must all be performed using best practices and advanced technologies to ensure they continue to operate safely and reliably. Advanced pigging and in-line inspection techniques should be utilized. Cathodic protection and coatings are also important for protecting pipelines from corrosion and other forms of degradation.

Industry Organizations & Regulators

Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL)

The Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) is a nonprofit organization representing the interests of liquid pipeline owners and operators transporting crude oil, petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and home heating oil, and industrial products like propane and ethane. As a trade association, AOPL:

  • Represents common carrier crude and petroleum product pipelines, as well as carbon dioxide pipelines, before Congress, regulatory agencies, and the courts;
  • Provides coordination and leadership on key industry issues, including pipeline rates and services, pipeline safety initiatives, pipeline security, and the industry’s Environmental and Safety Initiative; and
  • Acts as an information clearinghouse for the public, media, and pipeline industry regarding liquid pipeline issues.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) agency that develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. The PHMSA is one of ten agencies within the U.S. DOT.

Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI)

Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI) is an organization dedicated to advancing the pipeline industry through cooperative research and analysis. PRCI is a community of the world’s leading pipeline companies, and the vendors, service providers, equipment manufacturers, and other organizations supporting the pipeline industry.

In 2015, PRCI opened a new Technology Development Center (TDC) in Houston, Texas. This facility will be used to address the key issues that the energy pipeline industry is facing to ensure the safety and integrity of the vital national and international pipeline system.

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Articles about Pipelines
January/February 2022 Inspectioneering Journal

Traditional line interventions either utilize a single isolation point or are utilized in conjunction with bypass lines. A double block and bleed (DBB) replaces the need for using three separate line interventions to perform the same function.

Authors: Ian Littlepage
November/December 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

In cases where material embrittlement caused by hydrogen is a concern, evaluations using fracture mechanics to assess the reliability and integrity of steel pipes exposed to cyclic loads are necessary.

July/August 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

The scope of the subject case study reviews an inspection and corrosion control assessment conducted on subsea flowlines and includes evaluating the flowlines’ associated inspection programs and identifying all available NDT technology solutions.

March/April 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

This article will discuss a statistical analysis method that was developed to evaluate the integrity of pipelines that can identify, in a first phase inspection, whether the nature of the active damage mechanism(s) are uniform (general) or localized.

Authors: Marcos Delgado
November/December 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

The author estimates that, if the composite repair approach is implemented properly in place of welding repairs, approximately 70-80% of hot work at operating sites could be eliminated.

Authors: Ashfaq Anwer
Partner Content

InVista is a lightweight, hand-held ultrasonic in-line inspection tool (intelligent pig) capable of detecting pipeline wall loss and corrosion in unpiggable or difficult-to-inspect pipelines. The pipeline geometry inspection data captured by the...

November/December 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

Through a combination of new ILI technology and non-destructive in-situ techniques, all the necessary tools and processes are now in place and available to operators around the world to proactively improve their integrity management systems.

Authors: Jason Edwards
January/February 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

The author will discuss the failure of a dissimilar joint while examining the root causes of the failure along with potential solutions and preventive actions that would not compromise the welding production rate.

Authors: Samer E. Ibrahim
May/June 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

This article details the experience an oil company had when using FEA to evaluate the implications of a damaged pipeline. Specifically, it presents an efficient method that combines analytical techniques with FEA to determine the pipeline’s...

November/December 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

This article explains the Statistically Active Corrosion Assessment, which is a tool for determining appropriate and realistic corrosion growth rates which can assist pipeline operators in optimizing the value of in-line inspection data.

July/August 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

Failure analysis of piping that has experienced corrosion damage provides operators with valuable information needed to prevent future failures. Effective processes and procedures are essential when investigating the cause of corrosion on pipelines...

Partner Content

AET is a powerful, non-intrusive inspection technique to verify the structural integrity of pressure vessels, spheres, high-temperature reactors and piping, coke drums, above-ground storage tanks, cryogenic storage tanks, and more.

July/August 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

Composite technology developed for pipeline repair can be a cost-effective method of improving safety while keeping maintenance costs down. However, composite materials present significant challenges to conventional NDT methods.

November/December 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

Beyond the financial hits, undetected degradation from corrosion can also lead to critical safety risks. To effectively manage mechanical integrity, organizations need reliable methods of identifying the current states of corrosion occurring within...

Authors: Adam Gardner
November/December 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

This article exhibits how modern inspection methodologies combined with innovative computational analysis practices demonstrate the value of conducting fitness-for-service (FFS) assessments on sectional piping.

July/August 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

Joint integrity management remains at the top of many operators’ priority list.  The discipline considers risk and drives safety to ensure we learn necessary lessons from past catastrophic failures, such as the Piper Alpha explosion in 1988,...

Authors: Neil Ferguson
May/June 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

This is the second article of a two-part series published in Inspectioneering Journal, which is intended to provide a basis for understanding the differences between traditional tapped-transformer, fixed voltage type rectifiers, and High Frequency...

Authors: Gary Mulcahy
Partner Content

It’s a scary thought to think that with all the new advancements in technology, some facilities still rely on traditional inspection contractors that perform out of date procedures. You rely on technology to keep your home and identity safe, so...

March/April 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

This article highlights the evolution of corrosion monitoring from conventional ultrasonic to ultrasonic phased array manual and automated solutions and their use for both general purposes and complex applications.

Authors: André Lamarre
March/April 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

The objective of this article is to demonstrate the inherent value of an interactive and detailed GIS landscape, emphasize the importance of industry standardization, and encourage regulatory agencies and operators to systematize and incorporate...

January/February 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

Pipeline management remains fraught with safety risks for operators and the environment. Last year, the Ontario Energy Board determined that a $12 billion oil pipeline proposed by TransCanada Corp. would pose more risks than rewards for the province.

Authors: Vipin Nair
November/December 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Understanding the common factors that promote corrosion threats in the oil and gas value chain helps operators create effective inspection strategies.

November/December 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

This study provides valuable information for offshore pipeline operators curious about how composite repair systems could be utilized with their assets.

Authors: David A. Hunter
Partner Content

How long does it take for you to receive reports after an inspection has been completed? A week? A month? Does the data come from multiple sources with no way of knowing if it has been manipulated? Traditional inspection contractors do not have...

January/February 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

A meeting of the API Pipeline In-Line Inspection Standards Group was held in Houston, Texas on October 17, 2002. The following is an excerpt from the Draft Scope of the Standard in the working dated, May 13, 2002.

July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Some hiring practices for new employees have been too lax for too long in the pipeline industry. Pipeline inspectors who have ever worked beside someone who was hired via the familiar “friends and family program,” recognize the need for more...

Authors: Rikki Smith
July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

This is the first article of a two-part series to be published in Inspectioneering Journal and will provide a basis for understanding the differences between traditional tapped-transformer, fixed voltage type rectifiers, and High Frequency Switched...

Authors: Gary Mulcahy
May/June 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Pipeline integrity is critical to ensure maintenance and operational efficiency; however it is becoming an increasingly challenging task for the energy industry. Maintenance managers and inspectors must make sure their pipeline(s) and its associated...

May/June 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Machine-to-Machine connectivity combined with advanced computing capabilities and industry-focused software enable a wide range of new capabilities. From smart homes controlled over the internet, to smart electric grids with smart meters, sensors...

Partner Content

Inspectioneering and API have teamed up to create the Mechanical Integrity Professional Initiative. The goal of this project is to raise the benchmark on industry knowledge and develop the next generation of SMEs. We believe that equipping MI...

May/June 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

For traditional in-line inspection (ILI) vendors, considering 21.4 miles of a piggable 4” diesel pipeline is typically not a big deal. However, significant threats like 3rd party damage and external corrosion seem to come with the territory in...

May/June 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Historically, regulations regarding dent severity have been governed by one of two metrics: dent depth or strain. In the case of the former, plain dents with a depth up to 6% of the nominal diameter are permitted in both gas and liquid pipelines....

May/June 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Verifying pipeline integrity is particularly challenging due to the difficulty of pipeline access, as well as the limitations in available technology to perform subsea wall thickness inspections. These challenges require action rather than reaction.

January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

In the Oil & Gas business we have hundreds of event process chains, each of which bears a cost and contains certain elements of risk. So what can we do to reduce our burden and improve our business? Let’s take a look at the current state of...

January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

The future of inspection will be based on predictive and proactive technologies that effectively monitor material properties of structures and systems over their entire service life.

Partner Content

TEAM’s integrated touch point corrosion program manages all aspects of the integrity process from screening for damage to permanent repair assuring integrity – every time. TEAM’s unique turn-key approach to touch point corrosion integrity...

Online Article

Jim Svetgoff, Corrosion Advisor at Devon Energy recently interviewed with American Business Conferences for the Crude Pipeline Asset Integrity Congress 2014.

September/October 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

Recently developed RFID best practices provide an opportunity for pipeline businesses to transform their asset management and pipeline integrity management processes away from traditional paper-based systems to more efficient, highly-integrated...

September/October 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

The pigging industry has developed a tremendous range of techniques and technologies, and it is probably fair to say that there are few pipelines in the world that cannot be cleaned and inspected, although the success of such operations will often...

Authors: John Tiratsoo
May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

An adequate characterization of the Keystone XL special conditions from the perspective of pipeline integrity and risk would be advantageous from the system onset for identifying latent flaws in the system spill prevention plans.

Authors: Sergio Oliva
March/April 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

New inline inspections and integrity management systems allow operators to understand the complexities and economics of terminals’ and station’s complex aging pipeline infrastructure.

Partner Content

TEAM believes that quality inspections are the key to reliability. Our inspection crews are made up of specialty trained, experienced technicians who adhere to the highest quality standards. Our API 653 inspectors deliver thorough, reliable...

November/December 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Inspectioneering recently had the privilege of speaking with Tom Wanzeck, Vice President of Integrity Services with Willbros Group, Inc. Tom spent more than 20 years managing assets on the owner-operator side before making the leap to the service...

Authors: Tyler Alvarado
September/October 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Even though oil and gas pipelines and their related facilities are generally safer for people and the environment compared to other means of transportation, occasional leaks and failures due to corrosion and other defects have become an issue in...

Authors: Joe Pikas
September/October 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Now, more than ever, pipeline owners and operators are under intense scrutiny to ensure safe and dependable pipeline systems.

Authors: Rex Schrunk P.E.
January/February 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

The benefits of adding fitness-for-service (FFS) assessments to energy sector reliability projects are numerous. The acceptance of API 579/ASME FFS-1 is increasing across the energy sector and other industries, as these benefits have been...

Partner Content

The OmniScan™ X3 64 phased array and TFM flaw detector is equipped with enhanced phased capabilities and even faster TFM. The rugged and portable instrument features powerful 64-element probes with a 128-aperture TFM.

May/June 2012 Inspectioneering Journal

A self-propelled in-line inspection tool tested at Electric Power Research Institute and utilized in Europe can traverse a complex piping configuration and discriminate areas of metal loss. This tool is becoming available to inspect traditionally...

Authors: Clay Goudy
September/October 2010 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...

November/December 2009 Inspectioneering Journal

Pipeline integrity management programs are largely driven by regulatory compliance and are typically budgeted years in advance. Operators of all sizes are looking for ways to reduce expenditures related to operational efficiency and safety in order...

Authors: Stefan Papenfuss
January/February 2009 Inspectioneering Journal

Progress has been made in this area over the last 5 to 10 years. Here is a listing of helpful references for managing pipeline integrity that represents a lot of that progress and experience. It is by no means exhaustive. To the best of our...

November/December 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

Because of widespread interest in the proposed revision in progress to NACE International standard SP0169 (formerly RP0169), "Control of External Corrosion on Underground or Submerged Metallic Piping Systems," NACE is sponsoring an...

September/October 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

Interested in a review of liquid pipeline leak detection technology focused on monitoring and detection of small leaks?

July/August 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

The integrity of pipelines is a natural concern for pipeline operators, and so the ability to detect corrosion, erosion and mechanical damage in pipes is therefore of significant interest. Traditional methods of detection, such as pigging and...

January/February 2007 Inspectioneering Journal

NACE International has approved two highly anticipated standards dedicated to the control of internal pipeline corrosion.

September/October 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

Active corrosion in onshore and offshore pipelines is an increasing problem. Consequently, pipeline operators regularly use intelligent inspection pigs to detect and size corrosion. Inspection data can be combined with probability based...

Authors: F Egan, D G Jones, J Healy
November/December 2005 Inspectioneering Journal

A few years ago, TWI investigated a corrosion failure in a 30 inch crude oil pipeline that regrettably led to an explosion and fire, and the death of several operating personnel. The pipeline was designed to ASME B31.4 and the investigation found...

September/October 2004 Inspectioneering Journal

The impetus for the development of LRUT is that ultrasonic thickness checks for corrosion, erosion, etc. are localised, in that they only measure the thickness of the area under the UT transducer.

May/June 2004 Inspectioneering Journal

Soil corrosion (underground corrosion) is another one of those extensively researched and documented types of corrosion, since so many pipes and pipelines are buried and nearly all storage tanks rest on the soil. An entire industry/ technology is...

Authors: John Reynolds
March/April 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

During the past two years, a new High Resolution Gamma Ray Detector Array System to detect and measure small corrosion pits in real-time in the inservice piping in process industries, has been in development. This High Resolution Gamma Ray...

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