The risk of pipeline failure is a measure of the state of knowledge of the pipeline; improved knowledge of the pipeline reduces the uncertainty and therefore can reduce the associated risk. Specifically for corrosion defects, the knowledge of the number and size of defects is often obtained using in-line inspection tools which have uncertainty associated with their measurement capabilities. Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) is a methodology that objectively assesses a range of pipeline integrity threats including the threat of corrosion failure. QRA can incorporate the impact of significant sources of analysis uncertainty, such as feature sizing in risk estimates. This paper discusses an application of QRA used to evaluate the operating risk of high pressure transmission pipeline segments in the TransGas system. Specific examples are described in which the inspection tool sizing uncertainty was shown to exert a significant influence on the calculated risk levels.
In carrying out the analysis, the failure probability models selected were dependent on the nature of the integrity threat and the type of information available for each pipeline. For the assessment of corrosion integrity, the results of in-line inspections were used directly in determining failure likelihood. For the other threats including equipment impact, geotechnical hazards, manufacturing cracks and stress corrosion cracking, the probability of failure was estimated from historical failure rates with adjustments to reflect line-specific conditions. Failure consequences were estimated using models that quantify the safety implications of loss of containment events. Using these models, safety risk measures were calculated along the length of each pipeline. The results of the analysis show the benefit of the use of inspection technologies with improved sizing accuracy, in terms of reduction in expected operating risk.