Charting The Way Ahead for International Collaboration on Pipeline Research and Development
For nearly 60 years the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI) and the European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG) for 40 years have had the primary responsibility for identifying and implementing research and development activities in support of the energy pipeline industries in North America and Western Europe. The last five decades have seen substantial increases in the requirements for transporting energy, together with increased public expectations regarding the safety, reliability and environmental impact of the pipeline infrastructure. PRCI and EPRG have played a major role in helping pipeline operators, constructors, and regulators to rise to these challenges, providing tools and technologies to underpin the safe, reliable and cost-effective infrastructure we have today. Since their foundation, PRCI and EPRG have benefited from regular collaboration between their members. More recently the inter-continental exchange has widened, firstly with the formation of a Tripartite Relationship including the Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA), and latterly with the addition of new PRCI members from South America and Asia. This truly global collaboration has highlighted the benefits of comparing experiences in different geographic regions, and working collaboratively to address common issues. Collaboration must be productive at the working level. PRCI, EPRG and APIA have recently identified topics of common interest and initiated several new collaborative projects. For new pipeline construction, topics include advanced design methods and the effective use of highperformance materials. For existing pipelines, understanding the threats to integrity and introducing new technologies for damage mitigation are important. There are also requirements to understand and manage the issues surrounding the transport of anthropogenic carbon dioxide for carbon capture and storage. This paper highlights recent and current research by PRCI and EPRG,and the joint research initiated within the Tripartite Relationship. Looking further ahead, there is an ongoing need for more global collaboration. As the technology becomes more mature, issues regarding the retention of knowledge and the refreshment of experience within the workforce will become more critical. As best practices are identified and shared, there will be an ongoing move towards harmonisation of procedures and standards. PRCI and EPRG will continue to take a lead, together with their inter-continental partners, in promoting such activities for the benefit of the international pipeline industry.