GeoCorr Blog

Pipeline Integrity Crucial to Keeping America’s Oil and Gas Pipelines Safe

4 Nov, 2021

Pipeline integrity is crucial to keeping America’s 2.6 million miles of pipeline safely delivering oil, gas, and other much-needed fuel products across the country.

“Pipelines enable the safe movement of extraordinary quantities of energy products to industry and consumers, literally fueling our economy and way of life,” says the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) . “The arteries of the nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products, our oil and gas pipelines provide the resources needed for national defense, heat and cool our homes, generate power for business and fuel an unparalleled transportation system.”

Pipeline Integrity: All Components Working as Intended

Pipeline integrity describes the state of a pipeline working with all its components in a reliable, efficient, and safe manner, free from defects.

In this context, “pipeline integrity testing” refers to the means of testing the structural integrity of a pipeline, and “pipeline integrity management” refers to the system used by pipeline owners and operators to ensure a pipeline’s safety from its conception to its retirement.

Corrosionpedia says that “pipeline management is used to address many aspects including health, safety, and environment (HSE), engineering, inspection, maintenance, and other branches of pipeline labor.”

Pipeline Integrity Threats: Keeping America Safe

Pipeline integrity is a focus of the PHMSA and the U.S. government.

“Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products. The federal government rededicated itself to pipeline safety in 2006 when the PIPES Act was signed,” says the PHMSA. “It mandates new methods and makes commitments for new technologies to manage the integrity of the nation's pipelines and raise the bar on pipeline safety.”

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) says there are nine primary threat conditions to pipeline integrity:

  • Time-Dependent Threats (threats tending to grow over time):

o   Internal corrosion

o   External corrosion

o   Stress corrosion cracking

  • Resident Threats (threats that do not grow over time; instead, they end to act when influenced by another condition or failure mechanism)

o   Manufacturing

o   Fabrication/Construction

o   Equipment

  • Time-independent Threats (not influenced by time)

o   Human error

o   Excavation damage

o   Earth movement, outside force or weather

“Pipeline operators use various methods and programs to prevent, detect, and mitigate and/or inspect for individual threats,” said the INGAA. “Additionally, there may be circumstances when two or more threats can occur coincidentally and independently of each other. These “coincident threats” result in a likelihood of failure greater than that due to either threat individually or merely the superposition of the threats.”

Pipeline Integrity Management is Increasingly Important

Global pipeline integrity management includes:

  • Inspection services
  • Cleaning services
  • Repair and refurbishment services

Corrosionpedia says that “Pipeline integrity management (PIM) is becoming increasingly important as more and more regulations are placed on pipeline construction and operation. A pipeline failure can have devastating effects on the environment and human life, which makes it very important for pipeline owners and operators to ensure their pipelines are safe.”

PIM is important because Statista estimates that oil and gas pipeline incidents in the United States resulted in $339.72 million of total costs in 2020.

Statista says that there were 578 total incidents in 2020 which resulted in injury or loss of life, release of liquids, or fires and explosions, as well as any type of damage requiring repair work.

GeoCorr Pipeline Inspection Technologies can help oil and gas pipeline companies by providing individual solutions to their pipeline inspection needs.

Contact GeoCorr today to find out we can help you fully assess the integrity of your pipeline with our MFL Data Analysis Reporting, Caliper Data Analysis and Reporting, and Inertial Mapping Technology which can help inspect pipelines previously considered unpiggable.