This paper describes R&D efforts and trends and possible application of new technologies to improve on pipeline construction and operations. The paper also identifies possible solutions for some operating concerns related to pipeline integrity and safety. Safety is defined as protection for humans, the environment and materials/equipment. As in other industries, the oil & gas business too is driven by events; a typical example is the current interest on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC). Accordingly, there are technical concerns related to the influence of SCC and aging on pipeline integrity and the consequent financial concerns regarding possible pipeline upgrading, derating, abandonment and possible retrieval.
Potential new solutions include a proposed flexible tube (currently under development) made out of fibre glass composites. This patented innovation could reduce pipeline construction and operating costs. This tube could also eliminate some problems typically associated with metal corrosion.
Also included is the application of Fibre Optic Sensor (FOS) technology to the monitoring and evaluation of pipeline integrity. FOS technology may be utilized to study SCC because of its high resolution, and its insensitivity to electro-magnetic interference, and its real time availability. This cost effective technology is currently utilized in the monitoring and evaluation of a variety of structures such as airplanes, engines, generators, bridges and along highways. Optical fibres have the ability to detect a wide range of physical, mechanical, chemical and biological parameters, as:
If a fibre optic cable acting as a sensor can be applied to a pipeline system in a practical manner, it may be possible to monitor the performance and conditions of a pipeline over its operating life.