One of the biggest challenges that Pipeline Operators face is the rehabilitation or replacement of long, old pipeline segments that have restrictive right-of-way access, such as those crossing a major waterway or highway or through an environmentally sensitive area where traditional dig and replacement is not an option. Typically, these projects have limited options and have high associated costs. Pipeline downtime is also a major factor in the project planning. Horizontal Directional Drilling and lengthy environmental impact studies are two examples of costly and/or time-consuming activities common to these projects. Self-monitoring, high-pressure internal replacement (HPIR class) composite pipeline systems are a viable alternative for replacing these hard to access pipelines, with little disruption to the pipeline right-of-way. HPIR class composite systems are installed into the old pipeline in very long lengths, negating the requirement for multiple excavations along the pipeline.
Although inserted inside the old pipeline, they are not a simple plastic “liner”. They are fully structural, transporting high-pressure oil, gas and hazardous materials, with no dependence on the corroded steel pipeline. State and federal regulatory codes mandate the replacement of pipelines under certain conditions as part of the integrity management programs implemented as a result of the United States 2002 Pipeline Safety Act. However, these codes do not always consider the impact that traditional trenching and replacement has on public safety, nor on environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, national parks or endangered species habitats. This paper will address the following aspects of pipeline replacement, in hard-to-access areas, such as those that cross navigable waterways: 1) The traditional methods and limitations related to replacing the pipeline segments in hard-to-access areas 2) Composite technologies available today 3) Case study of replacement of regulated pipeline segments using HPIR class composite pipeline systems.