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A Case Study on the Application of Structural Reliability Analysis to Assess Integrity for Internal Corrosion of Unpiggable Pipelines

[+] Author Affiliations
Katherine Taylor, Susannah Turner, Graham Goodfellow

Penspen Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Paper No. IPC2016-64341, pp. V002T07A010; 11 pages
  • 2016 11th International Pipeline Conference
  • Volume 2: Pipeline Safety Management Systems; Project Management, Design, Construction and Environmental Issues; Strain Based Design; Risk and Reliability; Northern Offshore and Production Pipelines
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 26–30, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5026-6
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Operators wish to understand the condition of their pipelines to manage ongoing integrity. Information on the condition of the pipeline along its entire length can be obtained using in-line inspection (ILI). However, some pipelines cannot be internally inspected due, for example, to tee connections, tight bends, low flow or to a lack of launcher and receiver facilities. The condition of these ‘unpiggable’ lines can sometimes be largely unknown. To aid the understating of the pipeline condition without ILI data, operators will often rely on alternative sources of information, such as localised external inspections, model predictions and company and individual experience. However, there may be significant uncertainty associated with these alternative data sources when using them to assess the condition of the entire pipeline. This uncertainty may be understood by applying a probabilistic approach to the assessment of pipeline integrity using structural reliability analysis (SRA) methods.

An SRA approach applies probabilistic input parameters to a failure prediction model for a defined limit state function. Previous IPC papers[1,2,3] have presented guidance on probabilistic assessments to model pipeline failure. Recommended probability distributions are presented which account for uncertainties associated with line pipe properties, defect sizing and the error associated with the predicted failure model. However, there is little published guidance readily available on recommended defect characteristic distributions specific to internal corrosion features. Parameter distributions are recommended for defect sizing based on empirical data, which are mainly used for external corrosion features.

In this paper, a case study is used to present a practical application of an SRA methodology for assessment of pipeline integrity with respect to internal corrosion. Discussion is presented on alternative sources of information for the assessment when ILI data is unavailable, including targeted external inspections of unpiggable lines and data sets from comparable piggable lines. Probability distributions are derived from the available inspection data for the internal corrosion feature size and corrosion rate input parameters to the SRA. Probabilistic analysis is used to account for the expected population of unknown features in the uninspected parts of the pipelines. The expected feature size, corrosion rate and feature density calculated are used in the SRA to estimate the total probability of failure due to internal corrosion over time for the entire length of the pipeline. Recommendations are provided on the application of an SRA methodology to assess pipeline failure due to internal corrosion.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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