Pipeline integrity decisions are highly sensitive to the assessment model. A less accurate and less precise model can conservatively trigger many unnecessary actions such as excavations without providing additional safety. Therefore, a more accurate and precise model will reduce excavations and provide higher assurance of safety. This is akin to using a more precise surgical tool such as a laser for cutting out a brain tumor where you can cut closer to the edge and be assured of cutting out more of the tumor (safer) and yet cut less of the surrounding brain tissue (less conservative).
This paper presents a novel model for assessing large metal-loss corrosion based on in-line inspection (ILI) or field measurement. The model described in this paper utilized an unconventional approach, namely multiple plausible profiles (P2), to idealize the shape of the corrosion, and therefore is referred to as P2 model. In contrast, all existing models use one single profile for characterizing corrosion profile, e.g. RSTRENG utilizes a single worst-case river bottom profile to characterize the shape of corrosion.
The P2 model has been initially validated using fourteen (14) full scale specimen-based hydrostatic tests on pipes containing real large corrosion features. Validation results showed that the P2 model is safe, but less conservative and more precise than RSTRENG. The magnitude of reduction in conservatism depends on the corrosion morphology. On average, the P2 model achieves 15% reduction in model bias and 44% reduction in standard deviation of model error. Further validation was provided using the testing data published by PRCI and PETROBRAS. Another set of burst tests are being conducted by TransCanada as part of the continuous validation of P2 model.
The effectiveness of the P2 model was demonstrated through two case studies (denoted by Case study 1 and 2). Case Study 1 included 170 external metal-loss corrosion features that were excavated from different pipeline sections, and have field-measurements using laser scan tool. Case Study 2 included 154 ILI-reported external metal-loss corrosion features with RSTRENG calculated rupture-pressure-ratio (RPR) of less than or equal to 1.25 (i.e. RPR ≤ 1.25); hence, these features were classified as immediate features. The Case Studies showed that the use of the P2 model resulted in 80% less number of ILI-reported features requiring immediate action (i.e., RPR ≤ 1.25) and 89% less number of excavated features requiring repair (e.g., sleeve or cut-out) compared to the respective number of features identified by RSTRENG-based assessment. The reduction in the number of features requiring excavation or repair is highly morphology-dependent with the highest reduction achievable for pipeline containing long and wide corrosion clusters (e.g., tape-coated pipeline). However, the P2 model is applicable to all clusters regardless of the number of individual corrosion anomalies associated with the cluster.