Inspect Smarter, Not Harder: How to Focus on the Results that Matter with Holistic ECAs

Operators must address the numerous defects detected throughout their pipeline systems, no matter how benign, to assure a pipeline’s continued integrity. With inspection technologies becoming more sensitive, inspection reports often require an operator to address hundreds of pipeline anomalies for a single pipeline. However, not all anomalies pose an integrity threat. Since inspection reports do not clearly indicate an anomaly’s severity level in a meaningful way, the operator is required to address each anomaly, which can be challenging and expensive.

To guide operators better, ADV Integrity is currently offering a holistic solution that begins before an inspection tool is ever run. This analysis is designed to reduce the digging of non-injurious anomalies which can greatly reduce operation budgets. The first step in this analysis is to establish a threshold for the sizing of anomalies. After an inspection report is issued, the results that pass the threshold move to further assessment. An engineering critical assessment (ECA) is then performed to reduce unnecessary digs. An ECA can also leverage small-scale and/or large-scale material testing to enhance ECA models, resulting in less conservative outputs.

As part of using material testing to improve model inputs, ADV Integrity uses their new 22 KIP load frame to measure fracture toughness of vintage pipeline materials. These small-scale fracture specimens enhance ECA models used to assess the reported anomalies by allowing less conservative toughness values to be used as opposed to lower bound values.

According to Ryan Holloman, Consultant at ADV Integrity, this process of extracting material properties to validate input values for predictive models yields more accurate results that can improve operators’ integrity management decision-making. Operators can now know which defects pose a risk to their systems to avoid unnecessary digs and expenses while also protecting their pipeline operations.

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Ryan Holloman
Ryan HollomanEngineering Associate