CSA Z662, Oil and gas pipeline systems, defines class location as “a geographical area classified according to its approximate population density and other characteristics that are considered when designing and pressure testing piping to be located in the area.” In other words, the purpose of class location designations is to identify areas where specific measures are considered necessary to enhance public safety. Designations range from Class 1 (rural) to Class 4 (urban with high-rise buildings).

The current class location framework relies mainly on a location factor (L) to represent reliability. Higher reliability is achieved by using more resistant pipe — that is thicker and/or stronger — to reduce the probability of failure from operational hazards, such as corrosion and mechanical damage caused by line strikes. Currently, the need for a particular level of reliability is driven principally by the number of people impacted.

This paper discusses possible measures that can be implemented in the next edition of Z662 that, beyond requiring thicker pipe for certain products, will strengthen the class location designation system by considering the potential impact radius of an ignited gas pipeline rupture, as well as the occupancy and nature of buildings within assessment areas. The paper also discusses possible changes to improve environmental protection by introducing the concept of a designated geographical area (DGA) and associated requirements, enhancements to valve spacing requirements, and the handling of changes to class location designations for existing pipelines through interim measures and retroactivity.

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