The expansion of residential and commercial areas and the construction of new infrastructure close to gas pipelines may change their Class Location. As established by ASME B31.8, the alternatives to suit changes in pipeline class location are: reduction of maximum permissible operating pressure; pipeline replacement; hydrostatic test or pipeline’s route redirection. Considering that these alternatives might (i) impact operations, (ii) be quite costly and (iii) involve high risk on implementation, Class Location Management has been emerging as one of the main challenges for the gas pipeline industry. When it comes to developing countries, like Brazil, the rapid and disorderly urban growth increases the concern regarding third party safety and business continuity.
Despite of the mentioned onus, the gas pipeline industry has been presenting a reactive approach dealing with this challenge, implementing mitigation measures every time a pipeline class location change is identified. This paper presents a new approach on Class Location Management which tackles the challenge proactively, providing trends for pipe class location to guide strategic decisions in order to reduce future operational and financial impacts and risks to third parties.
The trends of pipe class location are the core of this proactive methodology. They are result of georeferenced population and land use historical data analysis, which generates future occupation scenarios along with the pipeline region. A software that was specifically developed for Class Location Management run the future occupation scenarios, giving the operator a complete understand of required mitigation measures that must be adopted in case the trend is confirmed in the future. With this information it is possible to understand futures impacts in the business, in the operation, define actions to prevent pipeline class location change and even optimize mitigation plan for any given year.