With pipeline operators facing increased scrutiny as of late, the conversation must shift to pipeline integrity. Pipeline integrity encompasses three methods: prevention, detection, and mitigation, which together minimize the chances of a gas leak and the ensuing repercussions.
Prevention is the first and foremost strategy when it comes to pipelines. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A critical strategy in pipeline integrity, prevention can be split into three subcategories:
- Design and construction
- Operation and maintenance
- Training and education
If prevention methods are compromised, the next stage, detection, becomes priority. Varieties of detection methods are possible, but they can be easily divided into two different approaches: internal and external detection.
The external process involves examining the surrounding area of the pipeline for any signs of a gas leak. The external method of detection continues to be popular due to its accuracy in locating pipeline leaks – even those that are smaller in size. The internal approach to leak detection focuses on the conditions inside of the pipeline.
Mitigation is the final of the three phases, consisting of efforts to minimize the impact and damage in the event a leak does occur. Unfortunately, as we all know, leaks do still alarmingly occur and when they do a fast moving mitigation plan is essential to avoid environmental disturbances as well as costly clean-up.
While pipeline integrity can seem daunting, it is not something to dread if you take proper precautions. Implementing a tiered methodology for pipeline integrity significantly improves business’ chances of preventing leaks from appearing in the first place as well as the probability of detecting leaks. A streamlined approach to pipeline integrity affords pipeline companies a peace of mind that would otherwise not be present in a world where gas leaks are always a possibility.
By putting effort into the three tiers of pipeline integrity, operators will continue to reap the benefits of the best practices for leak detection – strong company reputation, avoided clean-up costs and minimized environmental impact. For more information on pipeline integrity, please visit our website.