Improving Operational Safety in Oil Pipelines

Proceedings Publication Date:

01 Sep 2016
Karina Chacur Schraml
Karina Chacur Schraml, Mauro Yutaka Fujikawa, Edson Antonio Ivanouskas, André Luiz Braz, Adelino da Costa Andrade, José Paulo Severino
Part of the proceedings of
PETROBRAS TRANSPORTE S.A – TRANSPETRO OSVAT 30 is a 30-inch pipeline that conducts crude oil from Guararema Terminal to Paulínia Refinery at a flowrate of 3100 m³/h. Its operation started in 1978 and it is 153 km long. Due to the local geography, this pipeline has sections that lay at different altitudes, starting at 665 m at Guararema Terminal and ending at 610 m at Paulínia Refinery. In this path, the highest point lays at an altitude of 1015 m. At the time of its construction, this pipeline did not have an automated leak detection system. Therefore, the operating pressure was only enough for the oil to reach its destination, and there was no concern in maintaining a minimum pressure inside the pipeline after its operation had stopped. Thus, the pressure on the highest spots was lower than the product vapor pressure, and there were some areas, in which the product changed phases and slack line flow (column separation) happened. The problem was more serious when restarting operation, since there were large volumes filled only by vapor phase. It took around 30 minutes after pumping had begun for the product to start coming out in its destination (that is when the tight line flow happened). During this time, there was no information of pressure decrease, which means that a leak in the pipeline would not be detected until this time had passed.

Considering this situation, a project for installing measurement instruments and a controlling system was done. It also changed the way of operating the pipeline, which was at first locally operated, being only monitored by an operational control center. After this project, the operational control center controls both extremities of the pipeline. This paper aims to show how the pipeline and its operation were modified in order to enhance safety.

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