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Pipelines: "Common interpretation of the regulations is important"

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway's (PSA's) seminar on operation and inspection of field pipelines revealed varying interpretations of regulatory requirements for internal inspection of pipelines. "It is important that the operating companies achieve a common interpretation of the regulations, to the greatest extent possible, says principal engineer Trond Sundby in the PSA.


The PSA's seminar on operation and inspection of field pipelines was held on 9 December. You can find the presentations given during the seminar to the right.

The petroleum regulations (specifically, Section 47 of the Activities Regulations) set requirements for internal inspection of pipelines. The first inspection must be carried out during the two first years after the pipeline has been put into operation.

Risk-based
Today, the requirement for internal inspection emerges as a risk-based requirement, rather than an absolute requirement. The PSA believes that the requirement for first-time inspection must primarily be viewed as a verification of the pipeline the operator has had manufactured, installed and tested, prior to operation.

The PSA believes it is important that the operating companies on the Norwegian shelf interpret this requirement in the same way, in part to ensure equal treatment in those cases where an assessment indicates that internal inspection, including the first-time inspection, is not necessary.

"We hope that the seminar has helped contribute to a clearer understanding of the internal inspection requirement, including the first-time inspection," says principal engineer Trond Sundby in the PSA.

Strategies
The seminar included presentations of various strategies and technologies for safeguarding the integrity of pipelines.

"By describing technologies, we can demonstrate that they complement each other and can help in mutual verification. You have to know what you are looking for, and what the relevant hazards/threats are. With regard to comparing the results of internal inspections, the question was posed as to whether this could be standardized in some way," Sundby summarises.

"For CRA (Corrosion resistant alloys, stainless steel) we still need to develop technology to ensure a reliable result. Moreover, there is not complete agreement regarding the benefit of inspecting CRA pipelines," he says.

Integrity
The clear message from the PSA is that operating companies must think about the need for and possibility of internal inspection/use of cleaning pigs in the early stages of design. It is also important to involve relevant suppliers early on, and to have a clear philosophy for how to manage pipeline integrity.

It is also important to consider at an early stage whether or not the company plans to carry out internal inspections. If, based on risk assessments, the company believes that internal inspections as stated in Section 47 of the Activities Regulations are not necessary, then it is important to involve the PSA at an early point in time.

Contact information
Trond Sundby, principal engineer
email: trond.sundby@ptil.no