Posted May 19, 2016

API 1175 urges pipeline owners to set lofty goals for the maintenance of their pipeline leak detection systems.  The RP is written to satisfy current pipeline regulations and encourages pipeline operators to “go beyond" and, in so doing, to promote the advancement or stronger utilization of leak detection programs in hazardous liquid pipelines.  It is a useful document that should increase operator confidence in leak detection systems by improving leak detection performance and raising awareness of leak detection as a company-wide obligation.  I have been asked by a few operators where they should even begin.  Here are a few high-level suggestions.

Set key objectives

  • Increased operator confidence
  • Meeting regulatory requirements for pipeline leak detection
  • Improved reliability of the leak detection systems and supporting components
  • Better trained control room and field staff
  • Reduction in the operating risk 

Key benefits

  • Leak detection performance benchmarking
  • Reduced degradation and unavailability of the LDS
  • Improved pipeline operations and measurements
  • A better understanding of the issues affecting the LDS 

No pipeline cannot run on software alone

Good leak detection requires robust and reliable supporting components and good operating practices. The instrumentation, equipment, and communication that support the LDS should also be well maintained.  Maintenance should be scheduled, documented and tracked.  You may encounter cases where a changing how you operate a pipeline will improve the performance of an LDS.

Train

A good training program will reduce the consequences of a pipeline leak or rupture.  Define roles and responsibilities and establish the extent and the intervals for training.  The same applies for refresher training and retraining (if an employee had a prolonged absence from a position). Document the training (this is a PHMSA requirement in any case).

What can make you better?

Identify opportunities where you can improve most first with least effort.  It may be training, it may be adding a pressure sensor, adding a valve or changing operation on a pipeline. Set goals and document your improvements.  Continue to improve and monitor the improvement.  A good LDS vendor will provide you with the automated tools to track your LDS KPIs and track the reliability of the components that support the LDS; e.g which sensors are failing and how often.  You may find opportunities to improve the LDS performance by changing how you operate a pipeline.

Categories: Best practice advice Industry update

By: Atmos International
Date: 17 April 2019