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The pipeline infrastructure is a critical element in the energy delivery system across the United States. Its failure can affect both public health and safety directly and indirectly through impacts on the energy supply. The pipeline infrastructure is aging, while at the same time Research & Development (R&D) funding from the pipeline industry to develop technologies to assure its integrity is experiencing budgetary constraints. Total R&D funding is being further reduced through the elimination of programs resulting from restructuring within the government and energy industry.
The Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Pipeline Safety R&D Program mission is to ensure the safe, reliable & environmentally sound operation of the nation’s pipeline transportation system. With passage of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA) in 2002, industry is now required to invest significantly more capital to inspect and maintain their systems. The PSIA requires enhanced maintenance programs and continuing integrity inspection of all pipelines located within “high consequence areas” where a pipeline failure could threaten public safety, property and the environment. According to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) the cost to industry to implement the PSIA in the first ten years will exceed $2 billion.
The focus of the PHMSA Pipeline Safety R&D Program is to sponsor research and development projects intended on providing near-term solutions that will improve the safety, reduce environmental impact, and enhance the reliability of the nation’s pipeline transportation system. Conducting infield technology demonstration test to facilitate technology transfer from government funded R&D programs strengthens communication and coordination with industry stakeholders
The PHMSA Pipeline Safety R&D Program role in technology development and innovation has increased with the passage of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. The implementation of the Integrity Management Program for natural gas and hazardous liquids has focused efforts on proactively finding and fixing safety-related problems.
For several years the PHMSA Pipeline Safety R&D Program along with the DOE/NETL, Gas Delivery Reliability Program have funded the development of advanced in-line inspection (ILI) technologies to detect mechanical damage, corrosion and other threats to pipeline integrity. Several projects have matured to a stage where demonstrations of their detection capability are now warranted. During the week of January 9th, 2006, the PHMSA Pipeline Safety R&D Program and the DOE/NETL, Gas Delivery Reliability Program co-sponsored a demonstration of six innovative technologies.
The demonstrations were conducted at Battelle West Jefferson’s Pipeline Simulation Facility (PSF) near Columbus, Ohio. The pipes used in the demonstration were prepared by Battelle at the PSF and each was pre-calibrated to establish baseline defect measurements. Each technology performed a series of pipeline inspection runs to determine their capability to detect and size mechanical damage, corrosion, stress corrosion cracking or plastic pipe defects. Overall, each technology performed well in their assessment category.