Many different inspections are conducted on gas transmission and gas distribution pipelines — valve inspections, cathodic protection system inspections, in-line inspection, odorant monitoring, etc. — demanding significant resources and operational expenditures from pipeline operators. Risk-based optimization relating to these kinds of operational activities has been applied in analogous industries. The result has been measurable savings consistently ranging at a level between 20–40%. Significantly, this explicitly means that 20–40% of many operational activities have been proven not to bring a benefit. In the pipeline industry, however, there has not been a basis to determine which activities bring no value in terms of risk reduction. In this paper, a detailed example is provided for risk-based optimization of valve inspections and the savings are found to be within these expectations. These savings can be taken in either a risk reduction benefit or completely in cost savings. Through development of a valve failure risk model (which independently considers loss of function and loss of containment failures) and an inspection cost model, a set of the optimum risk-cost combinations is developed and can be presented as an optimized inspection curve. Using the curve to establish inspection frequencies is demonstrated, including the impact on operating expenditures. As demonstrated via the presented case studies, the general framework is suitable for optimization of any gas pipeline inspection or maintenance activity.

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