Vibration related issues can be a challenging part of pipeline integrity management, because they are frequently difficult to predict, diagnose, and remediate. Often, vibrational issues are not even considered until pipe movement is observed or failures occur. A wide variety of vibration problems are associated with pumps and compressors, and piping at pumping stations are often susceptible to vibration related issues. Excessive piping vibration may result in leaks at connections and flanges, and fatigue failures can occur, leading to leaks that present safety and environmental concerns.
The energy responsible for pipeline vibration is usually provided by rotating or reciprocating pumping equipment, and is transmitted to the piping either by direct mechanical contact, pressure pulsations, or turbulence in the pumped fluid. Vibration problems usually occur when a mechanical natural frequency of the piping system, an acoustic natural frequency of the contained fluid, or both, is excited by the driving force.
In this paper, a brief overview of vibration issues that occur in pipeline facilities is presented. Next, a selection of case studies is provided to illustrate some of the types of vibration induced failures that have been observed at pipeline facilities, and how they were addressed and resolved. These examples provide some insight into how to potentially avoid such issues, or if they occur, how to identify and mitigate them.