One of the requirements of a comprehensive pipeline Integrity Management Plan (IMP) is the establishment of safe and cost effective re-assessment intervals for the chosen assessment method, either Direct Assessment (DA), In-Line Inspection (ILI) or hydrotesting. For pipelines where the major threat is external or internal corrosion, the determination of an appropriate re-inspection interval requires the estimation of realistic corrosion growth rates. The Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS 2005) estimate that the ability to accurately estimate corrosion rates may save pipeline companies more than $100M/year through reduced maintenance and accident avoidance costs. Unlike internal corrosion, which occurs in a closed system, the rate of the external corrosion reaction is influenced by a number of factors including the water content of the soil, the soluble salts present, the pH of the corrosion environment and the degree of oxygenation. Therefore the prediction of external rates is complex and there is currently no method for estimating corrosion rates using either empirical or mechanistic equations. This paper describes a scoring model that has been developed to estimate external corrosion growth rates for pipelines where rates cannot be estimated using more conventional methods i.e., from repeat in-line inspection data. The model considers the effect of the different variables that contribute to external corrosion and ranks them according to their effect on corrosion growth rate to produce a corrosion rate score. The resulting score is then linked to a corrosion rate database to obtain an estimated corrosion rate. The methodology has been validated by linking the calculated corrosion rate scores to known corrosion rate distributions that have been measured by comparison of the results from multiple in-line inspection runs. The paper goes on to illustrate how the estimated corrosion rates can be used for the establishment of reassessment intervals for DA, ILI and hydrotesting, comparing the benefits of this approach with current industry recommended practice and guidance.

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