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Nominations for the 2019 Pipeline Leadership Award are due July 19. North American Oil & Gas Pipelines encourages industry stakeholders to enter distinguished individuals, companies, projects or initiatives to be recognized for the Pipeline Leadership Award.

Winners will be featured in the November/December 2019 issue of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines and officially honored at the Pipeline Leadership Conference, Nov. 6-7, in Houston. The nomination form can be found at plconference.com/pipeline-leadership-award-nomination.

The Pipeline Leadership Award was created to recognize a distinguished individual, project or company for excellence in leadership and the implementation of innovative techniques and methods, proven on actual projects or process management to improve quality and integrity in the oil and gas pipeline industry, as well as to reduce the cost of construction, operation and maintenance.

The annual award honors advances in the construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines, including innovations in the construction process, design, procurement, contract administration, management, labor relations, training and safety that improve the global pipeline industry. The Pipeline Leadership Award also recognizes projects for their innovative concepts and methods.

RELATED: A Passion for Pipelines: Tracy Townsend Receives 2018 Pipeline Leadership Award

Previous winners are Tracy Townsend, Washington Gas; J. Patrick Tielborg; Pat Michels, Michels Corp.; and Chuck Shafer, NiSource Inc. A description of how they led and innovated through people, process and practice are highlighted at plconference.com/award-winners.

The Pipeline Leadership Award is presented at the Pipeline Leadership Conference, presented by Benjamin Media Inc., North American Oil & Gas Pipelines magazine and Continuum Capital.

Award winners are selected from a pool of nominations obtained through the Pipeline Leadership Conference website. Nominations are open to anyone wishing to participate. Pipeline industry members are encouraged to nominate successful innovations by their colleagues, clients, consultants, contractors, suppliers, trades persons and by themselves. Self-nominations are also encouraged, since many subjects are best understood and presented by their creator.

If you have any questions, contact managing editor Bradley Kramer at bkramer@benjaminmedia.com or call (330) 467-7588.

The post 2019 Pipeline Leadership Award Nominations Due July 19 appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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Analyzing a material’s performance requires an understanding not only of its molecular behavior, but also how that behavior translates into macroscopic performance. Usually these are separate fields of research, but when they are explored together, and their connection is understood, technical teams can draw on a larger body of knowledge to design products. This is especially important when developing products that are more technical and complex in nature, such as composite materials, which are anisotropic.

Though this approach can be costly, investing in in-house and third-party R&D and hiring knowledgeable engineers and scientists to interpret the results establishes a solid foundation for product development. Composite designs that are based on more comprehensive understanding of the physical characteristics and performance of the individual components are superior to those that are developed employing less exact testing and analysis.

A test pipe is wrapped with multiple composite systems with various resin and fiber properties as part of a large, testing protocol to understand how these different components impact performance. (Photo courtesy of ClockSpring|NRI)

Building Better Solutions

Composite materials used in pipeline strengthening are multi-component systems that include a reinforcing fiber, such as glass or carbon, a saturating resin, a primer polymer and a filler compound. Understanding the role of each component in the system on both microscopic and macroscopic scales are critical to ensuring a design that is based on limit state analysis. In simpler terms, being able to identify which component fails first is critical to a successful composite repair design.

Recent research carried out by ClockSpring|NRI revealed that, when used in a composite repair system, a very stiff filler material can be the first component to fail. This failure can lead to premature disbondment of the defect area and the eventual premature failure of the composite system. Without this knowledge, it would be easy to misinterpret a failure by assuming that the composite laminate is “weak” and that improved filler properties might be the way to increase the ultimate strength of the reinforced member.

A thorough understanding of the components and their properties is critical both for improving existing products and developing new ones. Without it, companies could end up investing in improving the wrong component of an engineered composite repair (ECR) system and end up no closer to producing a better and more effective product.

Another example that illustrates why it is so important to understand the micro and macro scale performance of composite product is issues that arise during the post-curing phase. All epoxy systems designed for high-temperature applications require post-curing to reach their full design capacity. On a micro-level scale, when an epoxy reacts with an amine, the molecules form chains. If the curing schedule defined by the manufacturer is not followed, this reaction does not reach completion, which means not all the chains are formed. The result is epoxy vitrification — the situation in which the epoxy appears to be cured but has failed to achieve its ultimate material properties.

If a proper cure schedule is not executed in the field, a composite system can experience premature failure. This is a phenomenon that is still not well understood by the industry at large and is a focus of current educational efforts at ClockSpring|NRI.

It also is worth mentioning that codes and standards have been slow to incorporate the proper language about this topic for structural strengthening, leading to improper and misunderstood marketing statements such as, “The system is designed for high-temperature operations and cures at room temperature.” The reality is that greater precision is required. The ultimate design properties of high-temperature composites can only be achieved when the proper cure protocol is followed.

Strain gauges are installed on the defect region and between the layers of the ECR to gather data that is used to gain insight into the behavior of the defect area during testing. (Photo courtesy of ClockSpring|NRI)

Improving Product Knowledge

Research programs undertaken to achieve a better understanding of the components of ECRs have revealed some interesting results.

In one of these initiatives, researchers evaluated how composite fabric fiber and saturating resin contribute to the performance of composite materials on a pipeline. The test program was undertaken using multiple ECR systems with various resin and fiber properties. Using products developed in house, the research team undertook a large testing protocol to understand the differences in performance of various products and to identify the causes for those differences. The team found out through this program that sometimes similar products can perform differently.

There were two key takeaways from this test project. One is that repairs with higher through-wall modulus systems (example epoxy-based systems) outperformed lower through-wall modulus systems (example polyurethane systems). Another is that for both carbon- and glass-based systems using the same fiber type and repair thickness, decreasing the through-thickness modulus of an ECR results in diminished strain reduction efficiency.

In another program, researchers looked into the limitations of the maximum repair thickness. Within the ASME PCC-2 Article 4.1 standard, there are multiple design equations for determining the required thickness of a composite material to repair a damaged pipe. None of these equations, however, addresses a maximum repair thickness (aka a cap) for a design. While this may seem unnecessary, based on findings from numerous in-house test programs, not having a cap is problematic and is not conducive to the practical application of composite materials.

Following the assumption that continuing to add composite layers increases the strength of an ECR could lead to a less effective repair because at a certain thickness, adding layers can result in a less robust repair, compared to what the design equations show. In other words, every composite repair system reaches a critical maximum repair thickness level beyond which the law of diminishing returns begins to take effect.

In this research program, several products were tested to determine the ultimate repair thickness. It was discovered that as the wrap thickness is increased, the amount of strain reduction begins to plateau at some point. This is plotted as wrap thickness divided by pipe wall thickness on the X-axis and percent strain reduction in the Y-axis — meaning that a 0.18-in. wall pipe and a 0.18-in. thick composite would be represented at Point 1 on the X-axis. Test results indicate that at some stage, adding repair thickness to a defect area does not provide additional strength to the repair.

All ECR systems tested show that a critical maximum repair thickness level can be reached, beyond which the law of diminishing returns begins to take effect. For systems with high material properties, both on the fiber and resin level, the plateau occurs at a much higher thickness. (Data courtesy of ClockSpring|NRI)

Live Pressure Testing

When pipes are under internal pressure, it is common for pressure to be reduced before a composite repair is applied. This is a safety protocol for some industries. It also is done under the assumption that reducing the pressure better engages the composite. In many cases, composite repair installations take place without shutting off flow through the pipe. Instead, the repair is carried out with the pipe at full operating pressure or some form of reduced pressure.

ASME PCC-2 4.1 and ISO 24817 provide design equations in which increasing installation pressure reduces the required composite repair thickness. This is counter-intuitive from a safety design perspective.
An internal test program studied the effect internal pipe pressure has on composite reinforcement systems during installation. Full-scale testing analyzed the effects on the burst pressure and the cyclic pressure fatigue life of a pipe with a simulated 50 percent wall loss corrosion defect.

The results showed that installation pressure has little impact on the long-term performance of composite repairs, provided the defect region is not yielded. It is important to note that at the installation pressures tested, the defect remained in the elastic region. In general, it appears that installation pressure should not be considered a determining factor in the design of the composite repair. It seems best though to conservatively neglect the installation pressure used in the design of the composite repair. A thicker repair helps to lower the strains in the defect region, with a higher stiffness composite system having the lowest strain provided that other factors remain constant.

Investing in Performance

Product testing is important for quality assurance, meeting regulatory requirements, and verifying manufacturing process, but it is arguably most critical when developing products for specific applications.

Well defined test methods remove the grey areas and provide owners and operators with a clearly defined set of product strengths and boundary limitations. Investing in extensive testing in the course of product developments delivers products the industry can trust rather than products that end up teaching costly lessons in the field.

Eri Vokshi is a professional engineer with ClockSpring|NRI. The author would like to thank Davie Peguero, Matt Green and the ClockSpring|NRI technical department for their input.

The post Wrapped in Research: Extensive Testing Enables Superior Composite Repair Product Development appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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Given the highly combustible nature of its products, the oil and gas pipeline industry is one of the most dangerous trades for workers in the United States. Whether in spite of this or because of it, the industry spends an enormous amount of time and energy focusing on creating safe work environments.

From tank farms to processing plants, keeping safety at top of mind can help ensure each worker goes home at the end of the day.

Those reminders are especially important for the oil and gas industry because it only takes one noncompliance issue, like a lit cigarette, to create a dangerous situation, which can turn deadly for both workers and civilians in the surrounding area. Noncompliance issues can cause explosions, monumental property destruction and natural disasters such as oil spills and wildfires.

In an effort to improve safety standards and create a culture of safety across the industry, many pipeline owners are working with third-party safety subject matter experts to help identify situations before they become hazardous. Throughout the industry, it is possible to set up safety best practices to avoid dangerous situations and keep workers safe, prevent damage to expensive equipment and avoid the destruction of property.

Importance of Training

Fortunately, as technology continues to advance, safety operators are seeing fewer equipment malfunctions across both manufacturing and the oil and gas industry. This does mean, however, that human error can be one of the most dangerous causes of accidents for pipelines. The best ways to prevent human error are to establish a robust training program that extends through the duration of a worker’s employment and to provide consistent reminders to modify potentially problematic behavior.

The most important aspect of creating a culture of safety is creating awareness for all employees, at all levels of the organization, about the safety requirements as it pertains to their jobs. It is vital to guarantee that all employees are constantly and immediately notified of any potentially dangerous situations. When it comes to safety, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” should not dictate how work areas are set up.

Additionally, employees should obtain all accreditations and certifications related to their job duties. For example, it is recommended that workers who are inspecting onshore pipelines for new construction projects have passed the American Petroleum Institute’s 1169 Inspector Certification.

Constant Vigilance

All areas of the pipeline industry should be using safety signs, tags and identification to ensure that employees are constantly reminded of what is safe and not safe on the job. Pipeline construction and maintenance operators need to use “Call 811 Before you Dig” identification, as required by the Common Ground Alliance, for all buried pipeline markers as well as valve and inspection tags and emergency shutdown signs.

Contractors should apply all OSHA required identification on construction sites, including attaching signs to fencing in order to caution the public and guide work vehicles on and off the site. Workers in trenches need to be reminded of all possible hazards below ground, such as confined spaces and hydrogen sulfur, and reminded of the necessity of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Safety signage keeps workers informed that they are responsible for following OSHA standards and for the safety of themselves and their coworkers.

According to OSHA, three out of every five fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry are the result of struck-by or caught-between hazards. Falling equipment, moving vehicles or equipment and high-pressure lines all present such hazards. It is crucial that employers notify their employees of these possible dangers with the appropriate identification and signs.

Other dangers for pipeline workers include exposure to uncontrolled electrical energy or other sources of hazardous energy. In fact, OSHA reports annually that the control of hazardous energy, also known as lockout tagout, is one of its most frequently violated standards. To keep hazardous energy contained, and avoid OSHA noncompliance, employees should first ensure that all machinery and equipment is installed and maintained properly. Next, workers should be utilizing lockout tagout locks, tags and materials for all types of machinery. It’s also advisable to invest in lockout hasps, which can fit locks from up to six workers per device and will not unlock the device until the last worker has removed their lock. These types of safety signs, tags and identification should be used not only for transmission pipelines but also in facilities like compressor stations, pumping stations, meter and regulator stations and valve sites.

Critically Important

While it can seem as though the possibilities for safety signage and identification in the oil and gas pipeline industry are endless, companies should keep in mind that they can never be too liberal with the placement of these reminders. Preventing OSHA non-compliance and creating a heightened awareness of higher-risk activities for workers can help businesses avoid disaster. There are times when less is more — setting up safe work sites is not one of those times.

LEM Products a Sign of Success

Founded in 1967 as a nationwide source for electrical identification products, LEM Products Inc. has grown to become a leading global provider of safety identification labels, tags and signs for a variety of industries. Certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council since 1998 and by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, the Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania-based company manufacturers all of its products, both stock and custom, branded items, in the United States. The products are also made from durable materials to ensure they remain abrasion-free and can withstand exposure to chemicals, humidity, UV light and extreme weather conditions.

Known across the country and around the world, LEM Products conducts the majority of its oil and gas business in California — one of its biggest customers being the Pacific Gas and Electrical Company — and is certified by the California Public Utilities Commission. LEM Products has maintained an 80 percent retention rate over the past 20 years, and 40 percent of its clients have done business with the company for more than 15 years. LEM Products, Inc. is known for its fast response time, providing quotes within 24 hours and offering low minimum-order requirements, free shipping on all orders and quick turnaround on order fulfillment.

Since LEM Products is a woman-owned enterprise, purchases can help support the first-tier diversity spend initiatives that provide tax benefits to companies and that many companies are required to incorporate into their budgets. Those purchases can also count toward second-tier diversity spend initiatives because LEM Products itself is a patron of woman and minority-owned supply companies.

Maureen O’Connor is CEO of LEM Products Inc., a global manufacturer of industrial safety identification labels, tags and signs.

The post Keeping Workers Safe and Preventing Damage Within the Pipeline Industry appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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My first encounter with the Young Pipeline Professionals (YPP USA) came in 2016. I had known Molly Laughlin Doran as an industry contact for North American Oil & Gas Pipelines and later learned of her involvement with the YPP. That conversation eventually led to inviting the group to participate in that year’s Pipeline Leadership Conference in Denver.

Each year since then, it seemed like the YPP would branch out, having a larger presence at industry events and hosting its own events. The YPP has also continued to participate in the Pipeline Leadership Conference for the last three years, providing engaging presentations.

RELATED: Read Our June Cover Story on the YPP. 

The mission of the YPP is clear and crucial: “To prepare ourselves to accept the transfer of duty of care for the pipeline industry.” We all know about the challenges facing the industry when it comes to its aging workforce. There are scores of knowledgeable veterans on the precipice of retirement, and the YPP wants to make sure their knowledge isn’t lost when they step away from their career.

The YPP is dedicated to educating its members to prepare them to take the reins from their older counterparts, but it also seeks to educate executives and managers about the benefits of the YPP for their younger employees.

“We try to get managers to understand what we’re about,” Laughlin Doran said. “We’re a real organization, we’ve been around a little while and we’re trying to help the industry.”

With the older generation retiring, YPP members are receiving more responsibility at their jobs.

“We need to expose ourselves to as many areas of the industry as we can,” Laughlin Doran said. “The YPP offers all kinds of training and hands-on opportunities that members may not get elsewhere.”

The YPP has continued to add webinars and field trips to the list of events it hosts. In September 2017, the group hosted the first YPP Symposium. The event is currently on an 18-month cycle, with the second YPP Symposium occurring in March this year.

It has been exciting watching the YPP grow. With its fifth anniversary fast approaching, it seemed like a perfect time to feature the group as this issue’s cover story. Since its founding in 2015, the YPP has grown from 25 members to more than 200, although Laughlin Doran added that more than 400 have been members in the last five years, as some have aged out and new members have joined. I hope you enjoy their story.

Brad Kramer | Managing Editor
bkramer@benjaminmedia.com Twitter: @NAOGP1

The post Editor’s Message: YPP Taking Care of the Pipeline Industry appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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Look around. Your colleagues are getting older. Who’s going to take care of the oil and gas pipeline industry when they’re gone?

Enter the Young Pipeline Professionals (YPP USA), an association established in 2015 to confront the growing concern of the “silver tsunami” — the cataclysmic event where aging veterans leave the industry and take their expertise with them. If you’ve paid attention to the pipeline industry over the last decade, you’ve no doubt heard about the fears of an aging workforce and the challenges that will pose.

In the 2012 movie The Avengers, Samuel Jackson’s character Nick Fury says, “There was an idea … The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more.” This was in reference to assembling a new generation of superheroes to protect the Earth. Likewise, the YPP USA was assembled as the next generation to inherit the duty of care for the pipeline industry.

The YPP’s version of Nick Fury was Patrick Vieth, executive vice president at Dynamic Risk USA, who has more than 25 years of experience in the pipeline industry. YPP chair Molly Laughlin Doran and vice chair Eric Lang were among the founding YPP members, and they share similar stories from the early days of the organization.

“I was there at the very beginning, when we officially launched in 2015,” says Laughlin Doran. “I learned about it from Patrick Vieth. I attended the 2014 International Pipeline Conference and Exposition in Calgary and saw that the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada (YPAC) had a large presence there, and Pat approached me and said, ‘Hey, this would be fun, would you want to be a part of an organization like this in the United States?’”

Laughlin Doran started her career in the pipeline industry in 2013 and was looking for a way to get more involved.

“I was working at a composite repair company at the time, where I spent the first three years of my career, and I was very new to the industry,” she says. “I got involved because I saw it as a good way to get to know people my own age in the industry.”

Now Laughlin Doran has become an entrepreneur as owner and cofounder of Pipe Spring LLC, which is developing a new kind of pipeline integrity enhancement product. Her father, Shawn Laughlin, is president and CEO of the company and a longtime veteran of the pipeline industry. She never thought she would follow in his footsteps.

“I fought it, thinking I didn’t want to go that route,” she says. “I majored in government in college. Coming out of school, I discovered that pipelines was a very lucrative path.”

Lang says there are myriad reasons for wanting to join the YPP.

“Each member of YPP has had their own driver independently for why they joined. Mine was trying to understand all the opportunities that were out there in the industry,” Lang says. “For others, they want to be able to show up at industry conferences and know people, to be able to talk with senior industry colleagues and not have that intimidation factor there, to break through that. A lot of us had things that we wanted to do as a member of the pipeline industry to make a difference, and the YPP is good place to start.”

Lang is an engineer in the risk integrity group for Kinder Morgan. He started in the pipeline industry at Enbridge in 2011. A few years into his career, he too was approached by Vieth about starting a young pipeliners’ association.

“He gathered a group of about 25 of us and a handful of senior professionals to see if something like this could come about,” Lang says. “In two days, we nailed down the basics of what YPP would become, and ever since, we have been building upon that foundation.”

At that meeting the YPP established its mission statement: “To prepare ourselves to accept the transfer of the duty of care for the pipeline industry.” That guiding principle has served as the basis for everything the group has done.

Vieth was motivated to establish a group for younger professionals in the pipeline industry, in part, because of his own experiences.

“Early in my career, I was provided a lot of great opportunities and felt as if the younger professionals were missing some of these opportunities,” Vieth says. “With the success of young pipeline professional organizations in Australia and Canada, it was time to pull together a group of young professionals and industry advisors to launch Young Pipeline Professionals USA. Now that YPP USA is well established, young professionals that are actively engaged are provided many opportunities that extend beyond their day jobs.”

YPP USA is part of the Young Pipeliners International (YPI) umbrella, Laughlin Doran says. There are several groups around the world, including YPP USA’s two predecessors, YPAC in Canada and the Young Pipeliners Forum (YPF) in Australia.

“We were the third group,” she says. “The YPP got started with what those groups had done.”

One advantage the YPP has is being its own entity, says Laughlin Doran, adding that the group was established as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.

“We are our own entity, which gives us a lot of freedom to make decisions and be what we want to be,” she says. “But that said, our mission is similar to other YPI groups, even though we have that freedom.”

Vieth adds that the connection with the international groups has provided additional benefits for YPP members.

“YPP USA members are often provided great opportunities to actively participate and contribute in many industry forums,” Vieth says. “Because of this involvement, their network of industry professionals has been expanded and they better understand the resources available to help support their professional growth. Over the past several years, Young Pipelines International was established to serve as a focal point for similar young pipeline professionals around the world including the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Europe. This international connection provides another opportunity to collaborate and share ideas and experiences.”

The YPP’s non-profit status and governance structure sets the group up for future success, Vieth says, but evolving the group to meet the needs of the pipeline industry is up to its members.

“That said, it will be critical for the pipeline industry, especially pipeline operators, to be fully committed to this organization in order to ensure its long-term success,” Vieth adds. “YPP USA is currently looking at how to best engage companies and young professionals to create the best forum for success. The need for this type of organization is clearly recognized, but there is still additional work required to ensure the engagement and retention of companies and young professionals committed to the cause.”

Growing Leaders

The YPP aims to attract anyone who is new to the pipeline industry, as well as those who may be looking for their first experiences being involved with an industry association.

“We try to be as inclusive as possible,” Lang says, “so anybody and everybody who has involvement in the pipeline industry can be a member, whether it’s someone in an office or in the field. We even have a student membership, for those studying and think that one day they might join the industry.”

Since 2015, Lang says, the YPP has grown from the founding 25 members, five of whom are still with the group, to about 200 members. However, Laughlin Doran adds that the YPP measures membership a bit “strangely,” noting that the group has had more than 400 registered members since the YPP’s inception. That number reflects everyone who has been involved with the group in the last five years, including those who have aged out.

Technically, the age limit to join the YPP is 35, Lang says, but that limit is a bit flexible.

“We guarantee membership for five years from the date you joined,” he says. “If someone joined at 35, they could be a member until they were 39. Having said that, in all my time with the YPP, we have never denied anyone based on age. The point of the group is to get people who are young or new to the industry. Once they have found their way around, the goal is not to keep people throughout their career, but to introduce them to what the industry has to offer and other organizations. Ideally, our members turn into AGA members or PRCI or NACE, where they will make their impact.”

Lang says one of the main reasons he got involved with the YPP and then took on a leadership role was because of the opportunities presented.

“I just kept saying yes to the opportunities that were put in front of me,” Lang says. “When Pat gathered a group of young professionals, I said yes to showing up to the founding meeting. I said yes when there was an opportunity to come on board as one of the workgroup leads, because I saw that as a chance to really get things done. I said yes when a spot came open to be secretary, then vice chair. I just kept inching my way up, saying yes as each opportunity come along.”

For Laughlin Doran, it was about expanding her industry knowledge.

“In the beginning, a big driver for me was that I’m not an engineer by education, and a lot of the pipeline industry is technical,” she says. “For me, it was to get education on technical topics that I needed to know to be a well-rounded pipeline professional. The YPP offers a variety of webinars and training events, and a lot of it is technical, which is great information for all of our members.”

Joining the YPP leadership ranks has been even more rewarding, Laughlin Doran says, especially being able to bridge the gap from the founding members to a new crop of leaders.

“I’ve had many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she says. “A lot of my fellow YPP leaders have been around awhile, and now we’re starting to pinpoint new leaders who are taking the lead, so it’s nice being able to pass the baton off to this new group of leaders.”

One of those newer YPP leaders is Kaushal Shah, PE, PMP, manager of the global workshare team for North America at Mott MacDonald, based in Massachusetts. Shah joined Mott MacDonald in 2012, after graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. This is Shah’s third year as a YPP member and his first in a leadership role, taking on the Community of Practice workgroup lead.

“I wanted to join a group of people my age that were dedicated to taking care of the industry,” Shah says. “The YPP attracted me because it focused on educating people in the market, growing the next generation of pipeliners and promoting the benefits of the industry.”

Shah is a second-generation pipeliner, having grown up in the Middle East where his parents were involved with the oil and gas industry.

“I saw the benefits of the oil and gas industry and the opportunity for commercial and personal growth,” he says. “When I came to the States in 2008, I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I went to college.”

As the Community of Practice lead, Shah’s responsibility is to make sure the YPP is engaged with its members, which includes organizing the YPP Symposium and other events across the United States, such as webinars, so that members get the full benefit from their membership.

“The YPP has some very ambitious plans,” Shah says. “I can see what the YPP is doing down the line, and I want to be part of that growth story.”

Evolving Endeavors

Over the years, the YPP USA has evolved in the way it engages with its members. The YPP has branched out to host networking events at industry events, webinars, site visits and even hosts a major conference of its own.

“We have definitely taken on bigger endeavors,” Laughlin Doran says. “In the beginning, YPP didn’t have a flagship event. Now, every 18 months, we have our YPP Symposium, which we’ve done twice now. It’s a two-day event, and it covers the entire pipeline lifecycle.”

The YPP Symposium brings in expert speakers, allows YPP members to interact with industry veterans and gives members industry exposure. This year the event also included the YPP’s first white paper competition, the winner of which got to present at the AGA Operations Conference, April 29-May 3.

The first YPP Symposium was Sept. 21-22, 2017, in Houston. This year marked the second, held March 7-8, in The Woodlands, Texas. The YPP has also established two awards, the Young Achievement Award and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry.

“It’s a great opportunity for our members,” Laughlin Doran says. “Overall, now that the industry has really grasped onto idea of YPP, they’ve accepted us and understand our mission. We’re getting so much support, and that makes our jobs as leaders so much easier. People are offering to volunteer and to provide financial support. They know what we’re trying to do, and they see the impact and that it’s worth investing in.”

In addition to evolving in its offerings as an organization, the YPP has also evolved in its membership demographics.

“It’s kind of exciting now,” Lang says. “The goal has always been to be nationwide, but we obviously had to start locally. While things started in Houston, and our members are still primarily in the Houston area, but we now have gotten to the point where a good number of our leadership team is based in other cities around the country.”

Shah represents that expanding membership footprint, as well as a different point of view.

“I bring a different perspective to the YPP,” Shah says. “I grew up abroad in a primarily oil and gas driven economy. I saw the efforts taken to promote the industry over there. I also work in the Northeast, so I bring that perspective as well.”

Shah joined the YPP after attending the first YPP Symposium and has seen how the group has changed.

“When I first joined the YPP, it was a smaller group, but I was really impressed by the first Symposium,” Shah says. “There’s a hands-on benefit of being part of an organization like this. If we continue with this, we’ll be able to attract more talent from other industries. I see YPP as being well-positioned to support that.”

Future Solutions

YPP members face a number of challenges as they establish their careers in the pipeline industry.

“The first thing is that people in the YPP and in our age demographic are getting more and more responsibility at an earlier age, as the older generation is retiring,” Laughlin Doran says. “While we’re seeing more advancement, that also means we’re less experienced in a number of areas. With the silver tsunami that we always hear about, some organizations are great at addressing that challenge, while others need an organization like the YPP to supplement that knowledge.”

As an organization, Laughlin adds that YPP faces the challenge of its members having free time.

“Financial support is great, but for YPP members time off work is a bigger barrier for participation than any kind of financial barrier,” she says. “We do the best we can to schedule events so no one has to miss work time, but it’s inevitable. Time off can be hard to come by to invest in the YPP.”

Educating company executives and managers about the benefits of YPP is one way to overcome that challenge, Laughlin Doran adds. Having the opportunity to attend a YPP event allows members to broaden their knowledge so that they’ll be ready for that added responsibility when their older counterparts retire.
Education is also an important aspect of the YPP’s mission, Shah says, referring to the need for more public outreach by the pipeline industry.

“Public perception is poor in today’s marketplace,” Shah says. “Pipelines are a really safe mode of transportation. The stats aren’t published and highlighted enough. We’re a fairly closed industry. We need to open up and show how safe pipelines are and how the industry actually works. That starts at the grassroots level.”

By encouraging and attracting younger people to join the industry, Shah says, the YPP can tackle two problems at once, changing public perception and developing the next generation of talent.

“By the time people get to college, their opinions are already formed for the most part,” he says. “That’s a major challenge. We need to keep talking about our industry and encourage younger people to come into a market that wants their work. This is one of the most complex industries. The science is so complex, compared to other industries, and we really need that talent.”

Lang says that new leaders will also play a role in the YPP’s plans for the future. Elections are set for July to elect the new leadership team, who will serve two-year terms, as well as the workgroup leads, who will serve for one year.

The biggest test for the new leaders is to continue providing relevant events and training for YPP members, Laughlin Doran says. While the current leadership team will remain with the YPP, she adds that it’s a sign of success for the YPP that there is a new crop of leaders ready to take the reins and bring fresh ideas to the table.

The YPP mission statement is crucial to the group’s success, Shah says.

“The YPP has a clear mission statement, and we need to stick to that,” Shah says. “It’s important to transfer that knowledge to the next the generation and make sure we’re taking the duty of care for the pipelines in the ground. The YPP could be a strong force nationwide to promote the industry.”

Bradley Kramer is managing editor of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines. Contact him at bkramer@benjaminmedia.com.

The post Pipeline Inheritors: YPP Aims to Fill Knowledge Gap in an Aging Industry appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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The Brandt Group of Companies has made a significant expansion to its underground offering with the recent addition of the American Augers line up of horizontal directional drills and auger boring machines and Trencor trenchers. These two complimentary product lines include the largest units in the industry and are a perfect complement to Brandt’s current Ditch Witch offering.

The deal ensures Canadian contractors have easier access to the largest equipment available, from auger boring machines with up to 1,200,000 lbs of maximum thrust, to industry-leading directional drills with up to 100,000 ft-lbs of maximum torque.

RELATED: Carving a Way: Trenching Machines Cut the Path for Pipe

“The addition of these products is an important step for Brandt and the Canadian drilling industry,” says Brandt President and CEO, Shaun Semple. “It means that contractors can now get everything from entry-level units to the biggest, most powerful equipment for any job from one dealer.”

American Augers has been a fixture in the underground utilities and pipeline industry across North America for over 50 years. They design and manufacture the largest category of horizontal drills in the industry along with a full range of auger boring machines. Developed and hand-crafted in the United States, with the rugged user in mind, American Augers’ rigs are built to last and backed with 24-hour worldwide support.

Since 1945, American Augers’ Trencor line of large-scale trenchers has been a key player in the pipeline industry. Their rock-solid structure makes them the longest lasting underground equipment line in the world. Many active machines in the field today have logged more than 40,000 hours.

This announcement is especially significant in that the deal will deliver more than just unmatched access to premium drilling and trenching equipment; it guarantees the highest level of support across the entire range of products.

RELATED: Equipping Canada: Brandt Helps Pipeline Contractors Thrive

“Our focus is 100 percent on the customer and how we can help them succeed beyond the start-up of their equipment,” adds Joe Smith, American Augers’ Director of Sales and Marketing. “They require a proactive approach to product support and Brandt’s significant branch network and 24/7 commitment to customer care makes them a perfect match for American Augers.”

“Canadian contractors can expect better-than-ever uptime to keep them digging, even in the toughest conditions,” concludes Van Wall, Brandt Tractor’s Vice President of Sales. “Brandt’s reputation for a single-minded commitment to our customers’ success goes back decades and American Augers takes the same approach; everyone wins here, especially contractors.”

Brandt will begin taking delivery of American Augers and Trencor equipment in June.

SOURCE – Brandt Group of Companies

The post Brandt Named Exclusive American Augers, Trencor Dealer for Canadian Market appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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The Government of Canada has approved the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP). In making the decision to approve the project, the government took into consideration a wide variety of information, including the NEB’s Reconsideration Report, the Crown Consultation and Accommodation Report (CCAR), the Honourable Frank Iacobucci’s independent advice, evidence-based science and Indigenous knowledge.

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office notes that the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand. When we create prosperity today, we can invest in the clean jobs, technologies, and infrastructure of the future –– and help Canadians benefit from opportunities presented by a rapidly changing economy.

RELATED: Trans Mountain Expansion Project Ready to Take Next Steps

The key to creating prosperity is finding new markets for our businesses to sell their products and services. Nowhere is the need to diversify greater than for our energy sector, where 99 per cent of our conventional resources are sold to one market –– and often at large discounts. Canadians understand that we need to open up new international markets, in order to get a full and fair price, support workers and their families, and foster competitiveness.

The approval was based on the confidence that:

  • Strong environmental protections have been and continue to be put in place, and that the effects of the project can be mitigated through conditions and recommendations outlined by the National Energy Board (NEB), as well as measures including the historic $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan and the national climate plan.
  • Consultations with Indigenous peoples involved meaningful, two-way dialogue, which fulfilled the legal duty to consult and helped identify new accommodation measures and conditions to appropriately address potential impacts on Indigenous rights and concerns expressed by Indigenous communities.

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau also announced that every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition. It is estimated that additional corporate income tax revenues from the project alone could generate $500 million per year once the project has been completed. This money, as well as any profit from the sale of the pipeline, will be invested in clean energy projects that will power our homes, businesses, and communities for generations to come.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that the decisions we make today move us toward a cleaner, sustainable economy. Major resource projects can move forward, but only if we do so in a way that protects the environment and respects Indigenous rights,” says Trudeau. “The Trans Mountain Expansion project is a significant investment in Canadians and in Canada’s future that will create thousands of good, middle class jobs, maintain the highest environmental standards, and fund the clean energy solutions that Canada needs to stay competitive on the global stage.”

In addition, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada will launch the next phase of engagement with Indigenous groups on ways they could share in the benefits of the expansion, including through equity ownership or revenue sharing. This is an important step on our path toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

RELATED: Trans Mountain Expansion Overcoming Challenges in Canada

By moving forward with TMEP, we are creating jobs, diversifying markets, accelerating our clean energy transition, and opening up new avenues for Indigenous economic prosperity.

Quick Facts
  • This decision reflects guidance from the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling in August 2018 that quashed the government’s approval of the project. The ruling found that the NEB had erred in its decision to exclude considerations of the environmental impact of project-related marine shipping, and that the government had failed to meet its legal duty to consult with Indigenous peoples. The ruling also provided guidance on how to address these errors.
  • Following that decision, the federal government launched the most comprehensive consultations with Indigenous groups and communities that it has ever conducted for a major project. The government appointed a former Supreme Court Justice, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, to provide oversight and direction to the government on the process.
  • The Government of Canada takes its environment and climate commitments seriously and is working to protect our oceans and coastlines through:

Historic investments through the Oceans Protection Plan

A $15.7 billion investment to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet, so it can continue to deliver its critical missions in support of safe marine trade

A $167.4 million Whales Initiative, and an additional $61.5 million, to address threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale

  • Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is taking strong action to prevent marine pollution incidents, and to increase capacity to respond if an incident takes place.
  • These consultations led to the development of eight broad accommodation measures that will be tailored to respond to the concerns raised by Indigenous communities, including enhanced marine response capacity and fish habitat restoration, to address the impact on Indigenous rights.
  • On Feb. 22, 2019, as directed by the Government of Canada, the NEB delivered a reconsideration report, which included an overall recommendation that the TMEP project be approved as it is in the public interest.
  • The report outlined 156 conditions that would be imposed if the project was approved, as well as 16 recommendations that fall outside the Board’s mandate but within the authority of the Government of Canada. These conditions cover a wide range of areas, including emergency preparedness and response, pipeline safety and integrity, and consultation with affected Indigenous communities.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to acting on the NEB’s recommendations and conditions, and has made amendments to strengthen six of the conditions to further address concerns of Indigenous groups.

SOURCE – The Prime Minister’s Office

The post Trans Mountain Expansion Will Fund Canada’s Future Clean Economy appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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On June 18, 2019, the Government of Canada approved the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, subject to 156 conditions.

According to the project’s owners, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) approval is an endorsement that the project is in the best interest of Canadians and triggers the regulatory and commercial steps that now can be completed to get shovels in the ground.

“Today’s announcement confirms the value of this project to Canada’s economic future. It is also a vote of confidence in the ability of a project of this magnitude to succeed. This is a major milestone, not only for us, but more importantly for the shippers, communities, workers, local businesses and Indigenous peoples who have been involved in the development of the project and are waiting to share in its success,” says Ian Anderson, president and CEO of Trans Mountain Corp. “Today is the culmination of a lengthy and thorough review that considered the thousands of hours of environmental and technical studies, scientific evidence and meaningful engagement that were part of the comprehensive assessment.”

RELATED: Trans Mountain Expansion Will Fund Canada’s Future Clean Economy

In the 10 months since the Federal Court of Appeal decision halted project progress in August 2018, TMEP and its partners have been continuing to advance necessary design and planning work. This work will help move the Project forward to support Canada’s energy resource development, bringing thousands of jobs and significant financial opportunities to communities at a time when our economy needs both.

Next steps following today’s approval include the granting of the project’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity or “CPCN” by the National Energy Board (NEB). The company also expects an NEB process to reinstate the record from the previous regulatory proceeding and Trans Mountain will request that the Project be brought back to the same state of construction readiness that it was prior to the Federal Court of Appeal decision.RELATED: Trans Mountain Expansion Overcoming Challenges in Canada

Trans Mountain has always been confident that the Project has and will meet every standard, every regulation, and every test of environmental protection and stewardship.

“Our project will be the best built, safest, and most technically advanced pipeline possible. The extensive Crown-led Indigenous consultations and marine environment review recommendations have made TMEP an even stronger, and more responsive project.

TMEP has evolved substantially since it was first proposed, much of this in response to consultation and input from the public, Indigenous peoples, local governments and technical experts,” says Anderson.

“We have worked hard to establish and build upon our existing relationships with Indigenous peoples along our pipeline and marine corridors. Together, we’ve explored and, in many cases, settled on agreements that provide new opportunities and prosperity, in addition to ensuring the project design and planning incorporates appropriate measures to protect Indigenous interests in the lands and waters.”

RELATED: Timeline of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

The project is subject to 156 conditions that are enforced by the NEB and demonstrate the rigor and detail that will go into every stage of the expansion to mitigate risks, respect the rights of those directly affected and operate safely.

In addition, Trans Mountain has made hundreds of commitments to address concerns raised by the public, local and provincial governments and Indigenous communities that encompass a wide range of areas. Trans Mountain is required by the NEB to implement each and every one of these commitments.

“We are ready to re-start the Project. We thank the many Canadians who have been unwavering in their support, and we’re excited to deliver on our commitments and ensure as many people as possible will benefit from this important Canadian project,” says Anderson.

SOURCE – Trans Mountain Corp.

The post Trans Mountain Expansion Project Ready to Take Next Steps appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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The R-407 Program came to fruition due to one of the wettest winters in Northern California in recent history. After one of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s (PG&E’s) 36-in. transmission lines was found exposed for 30 ft in Petroleum Creek, an integrity management flag was immediately triggered. PG&E selected Barnard Pipeline Inc. to perform the pipeline relocation. The project took place in an environmentally sensitive area and involved the replacement and relocation of 303 ft of pipeline under Petroleum Creek, in addition to the preparation of an extensive streambed remediation plan.

Name of Project: R-407 Program
Category: Oil and Gas Pipeline
Contractor: Barnard Pipeline Inc.
Owner: Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
City/State Project: Dunnigan, California

The project team was able to expedite all of the applicable permits and mobilized to the site on Aug. 7, 2017. PG&E required an accelerated schedule to meet the mandatory gas clearance on Sept. 19, 2018. To meet this schedule, Barnard crews worked diligently to clear the right of way (ROW), excavate over 6,000 cubic yards of material, and fabricate and hydro-test the new piping.

To complete the gas clearance, Barnard used cross compression equipment to evacuate the gas from Line 400 (L-400) and then repacked it following the successful clearance. Barnard then installed and anchored concrete mats over the newly installed L-400. With the pipeline adequately anchored, Barnard backfilled and compacted L-400. Barnard then recontoured the streambanks of Petroleum Creek and installed 1,454 tons of ½-ton and ¼-ton rock slope protection (RSP) along the recontoured banks to ensure bank stability and prevent future erosion. The project finished with zero at-fault dig-ins or line strikes, and zero OSHA recordable incidents.

One of the largest challenges faced by the project team was the relationship between the PG&E easement and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) easement. The easements paralleled each other and only allowed for a 10-ft horizontal offset between the existing L-400 and the newly installed L-400. Due to the proximity and the 24-ft depth of excavation, Barnard implemented a combination of sloping and shoring systems, which was essential for ensuring the full support of the existing L-400 throughout construction. Once Barnard executed the gas clearance, the abandoned segment of L-400 was safely removed.

Another challenge faced throughout construction was an irrigation outflow point located 200 ft directly upstream from the construction site. The irrigation outflow discharged thousands of gallons of water daily, which in turn flowed directly toward the pipeline excavation. Barnard could not shut off the irrigation system due to the impacts it would have on the local farming community at harvest time. To prevent the water from flooding the excavation, Barnard installed a water bypass system that spanned the length of excavation. Barnard then diverted the water and discharged it further downstream where it no longer interfered with construction.

The 36-in. transmission line (L-400) exposed in Petroleum Creek prior to construction.

Barnard’s subcontractors on the R-407 Program included: Milbar Hydro-Test Inc., Cal Inc., Atlas Tree Surgery Inc., PSC Environmental Services LLC, Guida Surveying Inc., Larry Jenkins Trucking Inc. and Nordic Industries. Key suppliers on the project were Submar Inc. and United Rentals Inc.

All of the subcontractors were hand selected and invaluable to the overall project success. Each subcontractor displayed extensive knowledge in their respective trades and genuinely cared about the final result of the work. Throughout the duration of the project, Barnard maintained open communication, which resulted in effective scheduling and a project completed ahead of schedule. The excellent performance provided by all subcontractors benefited the success of Barnard and contributed to the success PG&E has in the community.

As the General Contractor, Barnard had the responsibility of selecting safe, reliable and affordable subcontractors and suppliers. Each subcontractor selected on this project had developed a quality relationship with Barnard on previous projects and exhibited quality performance. Barnard takes pride in working alongside selected subcontractors and incorporating them into the project team. Prior to performing any work, Barnard provided all subcontractors with a project-specific orientation and had them attend PG&E Veriforce onboard training. This effort brought everyone together to work toward the common goal of improving the community’s safety and making PG&E one of the safest and most reliable utilities in the nation.

One of most successful attributes of the R-407 Program was having it conducted with zero safety incidents. Barnard places a special emphasis on every aspect of safety and requires the same from all subcontractors. The commitment to safety from all of the subcontractors on this project was exemplary. The following descriptions illustrate how each subcontractor and supplier assisted with the overall success of the project.
Milbar Hydro-Test Inc. conducted the 8-hour strength test and assisted Barnard crews in the dewatering and drying operations. Cal Inc. completed the removal of the asbestos pipe coating that was found to be 2 percent on L-400.

Atlas Tree Surgery removed more than 400 almond trees within the PG&E ROW and mulched the trees onsite with a tub grinder. They then removed and disposed of the mulched material.

PSC Environmental Services provided precautionary emergency spill response vacuum trucks during the gas clearance. Guida Surveying Inc. performed all field surveys, and then compiled and produced the final as-built package for all newly installed piping.

Larry Jenkins Trucking provided the trucking of aggregates and sand to the main isolation point at Buckeye Station. Nordic Industries provided the RSP and trucking services required for the streambed remediation.

Submar provided the concrete mats and handling frame for the streambed stabilization. United Rentals provided the trench shields, trench boxes and speed shores that Barnard used during the excavation process. These suppliers were able to meet all requested timelines for material delivery and provided quality products.

Armoring Petroleum Creek with ½-ton rock slope protection (RSP) and concrete mats.

Since becoming a PG&E Alliance Partner in 2013, Barnard has completed hundreds of projects throughout California. The R-407 Program is a true testament of PG&E and Barnard’s continued commitment to executing successful transmission line upgrades that improve the safety of communities.

Barnard recognized early in the planning stage that Petroleum Creek was an environmentally sensitive area requiring the utmost attention. The project team held numerous site walks and developed a plan to execute work with minimal disturbance to Petroleum Creek. Barnard completed the project with zero environmental compliance issues or notice of violations, and developed a great rapport with environmental governing agencies.

Barnard also recognized that construction would take place during the almond harvest, which led to regular correspondence with almond orchard owners. From these discussions, Barnard established alternate access routes to avoid any impacts on the almond harvest.

Additionally, Barnard greatly increased the level of safety for the community by rerouting L-400 to an adequate depth. While installing L-400, Barnard also reinforced the streambanks to ensure that water in Petroleum Creek flows within its established boundaries, preventing flooding in surrounding areas. The project team’s due diligence in the planning stage set the foundation for a successful and beneficial project.

This article previously appeared in Utility Contractor, a sister publication of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

The post Relocating a Pipeline: Barnard Pipeline Tackles PG&E R-407 Program Project appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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Record rainfall and above average snow has caused historic flooding across portions of the United States, with widespread devastation across the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins serving as stark reminders for increased flood risk in the months ahead.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released a bulletin predicting that nearly two-thirds of thelower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through the spring months, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states. Other predictions point to unprecedented widespread flooding as we look to the future.

For pipeline owners and operators, the risk is real. An advisory bulletin released in April by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reminds all owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines that severe flooding, river scour (erosion) and river channel migration are the types of unusual operating conditions that can adversely affect the safe operation of a pipeline. Further, these conditions require corrective action and compliance of continuous surveillance of pipelines under federal pipeline safety regulations from PHMSA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), among others. Complying with the regulations set forth by these organizations helps pipeline companies stay safe, legal, and profitable.

Fortunately, advancements in technology including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and aerial analytics are transforming pipeline integrity management, making it easier and safer to inspect pipelines and ease compliance requirements.

Shifting to Proactive Issue Prevention

Drones and UAVs have already proven their strategic value for mapping and assessing pipeline conditions, as flyovers can be done autonomously. Surveying route selections, assessing land and environmental impact, monitoring construction activities and inspecting existing lines for leaks and corrosion are necessary functions. Traditionally, gathering this data has been expensive, labor- and time-intensive, and wrought with safety concerns for field teams monitoring miles of pipeline across remote, rugged and often mountainous terrain with accessibility challenges. But that’s no longer the case.

While drones have undeniably transformed the efficiency and safety of pipeline inspections, mapping is just the tip of the iceberg. Today, forward-thinking pipeline construction companies and operators are taking advantage of ultra-high spatial resolution aerial imagery combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to power predictive analytics that shift integrity management from a reactive to a proactive strategy. As such, these solutions have become incredibly valuable in the wake of major weather events and flooding.

With more frequent and powerful storms, erosion issues and geohazards are an ever-increasing concern to pipelines. Landslides can cause potentially catastrophic issues, as demonstrated by the 2018 gas pipeline explosion in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, which destroyed one home, prompted evacuations of hundreds and closed an interstate highway. Issues like these can be mitigated — and in many cases prevented — through proactive monitoring using aerial analytics and landslide prediction models.

Today, using advanced aerial analytics and UAVs, pipeline construction companies and operators can improve the predictive accuracy of where, when and how geohazards, stormwater and erosion patterns could impact assets. The new generation of aerial technology uses imagery captured by drones with specialized sensors to create full-resolution 2D and 3D maps that produce topography contour lines and help identify challenging areas. Besides providing more solid proof of pre-existing conditions, this advanced technology can help pipeline companies plan the best route and better anticipate issues such as slip potential and identify slope breaker failure points most likely to lead to erosion or other geohazards that could put pipelines at risk.

Comparing analysis before, during and after major weather events, as well as seasonally, are best practices. Owners and operators use models to assess sections along a pipeline right-of-way that are most likely to experience an impact following a major rain event or the beginning of slope movement. Armed with this insight, they can pinpoint specific areas of interest and prioritize and assign personnel and resources to those areas for further inspection, thus greatly increasing efficient use of resources while reducing risk.

River basins and watersheds are also critical areas during heavy perception, snowmelt and flooding. River scour and channel migration may damage a pipeline as a result of additional stresses imposed on the pipe by undermining underlying support soils, exposing the pipeline to lateral water forces and impact from waterborne debris. Proof in point: On Jan. 17, 2015, a breach in the Bridger Pipeline Co.’s Poplar system resulted in spill into the Yellowstone River near the town of Glendive, Montana, releasing an estimated 677 barrels of crude oil into the river and impacting local water supplies. Preliminary reports estimated more than 100 ft of pipeline was exposed on the river bottom, and a release point was near a girth weld.

Aerial analytics can provide accurate volumetric measurements of how much water is in a drainage basin, as well as how much volume is available before overflow becomes an issue. Not only is this invaluable information to municipalities and land planners — enabling them to make better decisions about how much water to release downstream to control inflow into the watershed — but pipeline companies
can also locate where damage or erosion is already occurring, or where there is the highest potential for erosion to occur. Having this insight enables owners and operators to prioritize resources to address the most problematic areas first, addressing issues before they become problems, saving time and costs.

Furthermore, this information becomes invaluable to designing and implementing stormwater best management practices (BMPs) and erosion control. Using software, it is possible to accurately chart things like potential stormwater sources, drainage and slope issues, potential collection points, and more. By using the images captured by drones, pipeline construction companies and property managers can create plans that adapt all of the EPA guidelines and federal regulations for stormwater BMPs.

During periods of heavy stormwater, drones enable operators to get images of pipelines and surrounding area, which can be used to spot problems or identify better strategies or needs for management of stormwater.

The benefits of using aerial analytics for informing stormwater management are numerous and include:

  • Better aerial images with 3D mapping,
    grading and other options available.
  • More affordable than other types of map development.
  • Better accuracy during the planning phase.
  • Ability to consistently monitor regions during and after storms.
  • Remotely monitor areas without having to travel onsite, improving safety for field workers and reducing costs.

Ultra-high-resolution models based on data collected from UAVs can help operators predict where issues such as propensity for landslides are most likely to occur on a pipeline project.

Looking Ahead

According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation could unlock approximately $1.6 trillion of value for the oil and gas industry, its customers and society. This value is derived from greater productivity, better system efficiency, savings from reduced resource usage and fewer spills and emissions. UAVs have emerged as a key process improvement for pipeline inspection, transforming the efficiency, value and safety of the entire pipeline lifecycle — from planning and construction, to operations, maintenance and optimization. Today, innovation though cloud platforms, ultra-high spatial resolution aerial imagery, AI and machine learning, predictive analytics and big data are opening up new opportunities to transform pipeline integrity management to a more proactive approach to help reduce risk and accelerate time to value.

Toby Kraft is cofounder and CEO of SolSpec, a spatial analytics company that delivers insightful analytics to major land-use industries including agriculture, oil and gas, renewables and mining.

The post How Drones Help Solve Pipeline Problems Before They Become Problems appeared first on North American Oil & Gas Pipelines.

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