The concept of gas pipelines sectionalized by block valves in Brazil has focused on safety rather than operability, and so all such valves are automatically controlled. However, operational history has indicated that undesired actuation of automatically controlled blocking valves is among the major risks of supply failure. Thus, a statistical study was carried out to identify the chief causes for undesired closures and opportunities for improvements. One of the most important causes is the lack of standardization of equipment and procedures within the pipeline network. The lack of standardization usually results in higher costs and complexity of operation and maintenance.
With the purpose of overcoming such drawbacks, it was required to establish a program for process optimization, in order to obtain well-adjusted maintenance and operational procedures throughout the life cycle of the equipment and facilities. A maintenance strategy for the automatic block valves is an important point to achieve the objectives defined in this program, such as an increase in operational reliability, minimizing the risks of gas-supply failure and the reduction of operational costs.
Although the project is still in progress, it is already possible to observe some positive outcomes related to operational reliability, showing a significant reduction in the number of operational occurrences of automatic block valves in 2013.