December 2009 Vol. 236 No. 12

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PRCI Announces $8M Research Program for 2010

Pipeline Research Council International, Inc. (PRCI), announced Dec. 16 the 2010 Research Program as approved by its board of directors at its fall 2009 meeting. Under the process, members vote their annual subscriptions to the projects of greatest interest and value to them. The 2010 program is funded at just over $8 million.

Key topical areas for the 2010 program include pipeline corrosion, integrity, operations, design, materials, construction, facilities, and underground storage. The funding for the 2010 program contributes to a total research program exceeding $20 million.

PRCI Chairman Paul MacGregor noted that “This commitment of the PRCI membership in the face of challenging financial constraints in all sectors of the global economy demonstrates how industry leadership and collaboration can meet the challenges facing the energy pipeline industry… The projects selected by our members reflect their commitment to the safe, efficient, and reliable operation of energy pipelines worldwide.”

In addition to core programs, the following highlights a number of initiatives in 2010 to advance the energy pipeline industry through research, several of which are being undertaken with European and Australian research partners:

  • An assessment of research needs for CO2 transportation in pipelines is underway to identify the issues and needs associated with the transportation of CO2 in existing pipelines, as well as the design considerations for new CO2 pipelines. The result will be a coordinated research plan to address the specific technical issues associated with CO2 transport.
  • Guidelines are being developed to assist operators in evaluating damage to subsea pipelines.
  • Research is beginning to field validate surface loading stress calculations for buried pipelines.
  • Improved methods are being sought for estimating remaining fatigue life of ERW pipelines.
  • Key initiatives in damage assessment, prevention, and management include: determining the effects of mechanical damage to pipelines, through development of assessment databases and models on structural significance of mechanical damage; the development of sensing technologies for monitoring and surveillance of existing rights of way corridors from aerial platforms; and the detailed analysis of human factors that relate to Damage Prevention is also being conducted.
  • PRCI’s work in developing a comprehensive approach for the management of unpiggable pipelines will be expanded to include a “Base Resource Document” to provide guidance for inspection and assessment of unpiggable pipelines.
  • Improving the understanding of data produced by pipeline inspections technologies with an emphasis on determining the effects of uncertainty in the data.
  • In 2010, new focus areas in the analysis and development of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods and technologies will include development of an integrated pipeline cleaning and inspection tool to provide integrity-related data during standard pipeline cleaning operations, and establish clear performance benchmarks for Long Range Guided Wave Ultrasonic technology.
  • The development of cost-effective NOX controls for reciprocating compressor engines will culminate in field tests of promising technologies for lean-burn engines, and transition to a focus on after-treatment technologies such as catalyst controls for rich-burn engines.
  • New greenhouse gas reporting regulations have spurred projects to re-examine standard emissions factors for compressor station fugitive emissions and to develop improved fugitives measurement methods and reporting procedures.
  • Improved compressor and pump station facility integrity is being targeted by projects to evaluate the effects of vibration on station piping components, and improve the methods and practices used for bolted joints.
  • The stability of brine strings in underground salt caverns is a limiting factor for integrity and deliverability. Brine string stiffeners will be evaluated for their potential to increase the allowable fluid velocities used for injection and withdrawal cycles.
  • An extensive web-based measurement flow library will be introduced to enable pipeline operators to directly access research results, conference presentations, seminal technical documents and a large variety of information supporting technical standards.
  • Ultrasonic gas meter operation under non-ideal conditions will be examined, including the effects of liquids contamination and situations where upstream piping is rather complex.

PRCI President George Tenley said, “The 2010 Research Program will contribute directly to the issues facing the membership and the industry worldwide as it pursues projects in areas related to climate change, enabling the existing and new infrastructure to take on non-traditional energy supplies, the impending expansion of the pipeline infrastructure to meet new demands, changing markets and new supplies, and securing rights-of-way from intrusion and the damage it can cause. Tenley noted that “One feature of the 2010 program that holds great promise for the future is the opportunity to bring related projects together into more comprehensive outcomes. This is another type of leveraging, and leveraging is a cornerstone of how we accomplish our mission.”

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