Don’t Risk Danger – Pipeline Contingency Explained

Helen Winsor

Don’t Risk Danger – Pipeline Contingency Explained!

Interview by Helen Winsor, Oil & Gas IQ

Roland Palmer-Jones, Head of Pipeline Integrity at Penspen, joins Oil & Gas IQ to discuss how to prepare for a potential subsea pipeline disaster and to offer an insight on Penspen’s work with Qatar Gas to develop successful repair systems

Oil & Gas IQ: First of all, I would like to ask you, what are the implications for operators who are unlucky enough to have a subsea pipeline struck by an anchor?

R Palmer-Jones: There are a number of things that may happen. The first thing that could happen is that the anchor could cause a total rupture of the pipeline. This obviously has major consequences for the operator. In terms of knowing what to do, it’s pretty straightforward. You have to shut down and you have to get it fixed as soon as possible with a replacement section. In more complex cases, in some ways this is where you have severe damage but the pipeline hasn’t actually failed, because then you have a lot of uncertainty about whether it may peril in a short time or whether you’ve got a long time to respond to it, how severe that damage is and how you can repair it. Do you need to shut down totally, which has a huge impact obviously on production and loss of revenue and so on? So if you do have an anchor strike, you’ve got a lot of issues to consider, particularly if you don’t have an immediate failure. Obviously if you have an immediate failure, that’s terrible, but rare. Where you’ve got damage, you’ve got some hard choices to make on what you’re going to do next.

Oil & Gas IQ: What plans do operators have in place to prepare themselves for potential damage?

R Palmer-Jones: Obviously you need some sort of emergency response procedure. So if you do have a rupture or something like that, you need to have things in place to make sure you can get everything safe; you can depressurise the pipeline and so on. If you haven’t got that severe situation but you’ve got some major damage, then you need to make sure you can respond appropriately for that. You may have to reduce pressure; you’ll want procedures to guide your staff in what to do and so on. You may need to have access to contractors, people who can go and inspect the line, either divers or ROV operators, that sort of thing. And of course you’re going to need to have access to spares and appropriate equipment for doing a repair so you need to know what sort of things you’re going to have.

Oil & Gas IQ: Let’s have a look at your company’s progress; what were the highlights for Penspen over the last year and are there any projects of note?

R Palmer-Jones: As relates to pipeline repair, we are getting asked by lots of different pipeline operators to advise them either in the case of damage incidents or in preparation. One particularly interesting project we’ve been involved with over the last year or two has been for a company called Qatargas. They operate a gas field off Qatar, an LNG plant. We’ve been working with them on their emergency pipeline repair system which has been fascinating because they are taking a very proactive approach to looking at what is credible damage for their system and what are suitable repair systems. So they’ve put in place a set of best in class procedures and they’ve also developed some excellent repair systems which are now available to them for rapid repair of credible damage to their system. That has been very interesting working with a forward looking operator like Qatargas.

Oil & Gas IQ: You’re giving a presentation at this year’s Pipeline Integrity Management Summit; what are you looking forward to most from the event?

R Palmer-Jones: I’m actually looking forward to getting comments and input from the other people who will be there. There will be, I’m sure, experts from various other consultancies and also from operators and regulators and it will be interesting to get their view on preparedness for the damage incidents. Obviously different people have different takes on it. Your regulator is often looking at safety or security of supply. Operators generally are very concerned with profitability and consultants, of course, have a wide range of experience and may have the best practice. So it’s getting that feedback and seeing what the other people at the conference have to say and contribute that I’m looking forward to.