Pipelines are one of the most efficient and safe means of hydrocarbon distribution and account for more than 50% of energy transportation in the world. Hence, any pipeline damage that may lead to an unplanned shutdown of the pipeline network may result in substantial loss of revenue to the operator and a severe dent to its reputation. It is therefore in the operator’s interest to rectify the damage and resume full operation in the shortest possible time. Existence of a pre-analyzed, approved decision making matrix, repair equipment/ inventory and trained manpower is vital in facilitating a quick and cost-efficient resumption of full operation.
Even though resources like the Pipeline Defect Assessment Manual exist, such literature sources provide generic guidelines and might not be detailed and specific to the issues faced by the operator. Operators need an in-depth, pre-analyzed, approved decision making matrix customized to their pipeline network and incorporating credible damage scenarios, local conditions, ready-to-use repair equipment/ inventory and available marine/vessel resources. This enables quick identification of the type and extent of damage and the most appropriate repair to be exercised.
A thorough understanding of the operator’s pipeline network and field architecture, marine traffic in the area, possible damage scenarios, damage assessment methods, software, latest survey tools, pre-evaluation of repair options, inventory, available marine resources and installation issues is a prerequisite to develop an effective and customized decision making matrix. Active collaboration between entities representing above issues is important so that the matrix developed is technically robust, financially optimized yet easily understood and approved by all stake holders within the operator’s organization.
This paper identifies all critical technical/ operational elements, available tools/ resources, multi-disciplinary activities and repair methods that need to be considered for development of an effective decision making matrix for emergency pipeline repairs.