Managing the integrity of pipeline system is the primary goal of every pipeline operator. To ensure the integrity of pipeline system, its health assessment is very important and critical for ensuring safety of environment, human resources and its assets. In long term, managing pipeline integrity is an investment to asset protection which ultimately results in cost saving. Typically, the health assessment to managing the integrity of pipeline system is a function of operational experience and corporate philosophy. There is no single approach that can provide the best solution for all pipeline system. Only a comprehensive, systematic and integrated integrity management program provides the means to improve the safety of pipeline systems. Such programme provides the information for an operator to effectively allocate resources for appropriate prevention, detection and mitigation activities that will result in improved safety and a reduction in the number of incidents.
Presently GAIL (INDIA) LTD. is operating & maintaining approximately 10,000Kms of natural gas/RLNG/LPG pipeline and HVJ Pipeline is the largest pipeline network of India which transports more than 50% of total gas being consumed in this country. HVJ pipeline system consists of more than 4500 Kms of pipeline having diameter range from 04” to 48”, which consist of piggable as well as non-piggable pipeline. Though, lengthwise non-piggable pipeline is very less but their importance cannot be ignored in to the totality because of their critical nature. Typically, pipeline with small length & connected to dispatch terminal are non-piggable and these pipelines are used to feed the gas to the consumer.
Today pipeline industries are having three different types of inspection techniques available for inspection of the pipeline.
1. Inline inspection
2. Hydrostatic pressure testing
3. Direct assessment (DA)
Inline inspection is possible only for piggable pipeline i.e. pipeline with facilities of pig launching & receiving and hydrostatic pressure testing is not possible for the pipeline under continuous operation. Thus we are left with direct assessment method to assess health of the non-piggable pipelines.
Basically, direct assessment is a structured multi-step evaluation method to examine and identify the potential problem areas relating to internal corrosion, external corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking using ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment), ECDA (External Corrosion Direct Assessment) and SCCDA (Stress Corrosion Direct Assessment). All the above DA is four steps iterative method & consist of following steps;
a. Pre assessment
b. Indirect assessment
c. Direct assessment
d. Post assessment
Considering the importance of non-piggable pipeline, integrity assessment of following non piggable pipeline has done through direct assessment method.
1. 30 inch dia pipeline of length 0.6 km and handling 18.4 MMSCMD of natural gas
2. 18 inch dia pipeline of length 3.65 km and handling 4.0 MMSCMD of natural gas
3. 12 inch dia pipeline of length 2.08 km and handling 3.4 MMSCMD of natural gas
In addition to ICDA, ECDA & SCCDA, Long Range Ultrasonic Thickness (LRUT-a guided wave technology) has also been carried out to detect the metal loss at excavated locations observed by ICDA & ECDA.
Direct assessment survey for above pipelines has been conducted and based on the survey; high consequence areas have been identified. All the high consequence area has been excavated and inspected. No appreciable corrosion and thickness loss have observed at any area. However, pipeline segments have been identified which are most vulnerable and may have corrosion in future.