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July 31, 2018 / Klaas van Alphen
Category: Research Update 

Seven New Projects To Commence

This month seven new research projects were approved by the Energy Pipelines CRC Board. The proposals have gone through a rigorous development and evaluation process to ensure industry value is provided by the new projects. 

Given we have entered the last year of Commonwealth funded Energy Pipelines CRC research, the new research projects will be delivered in a relatively short time period (6-9 months). Therefore most of the proposals are either extensions of existing projects or targeted standalone projects that address an immediate industry need.
Summaries of the research proposals are provided below.

RP6.1-06: PipeStrain Repair, Validation and Development

PipeStrain is referenced in AS2885.5 as an acceptable method for the conduct of a Type 3 field pressure strength test. In essence, it is the only practical method. There has been feedback from industry that the software needs to be updated to provide an adequately precise analysis of the strain in each pipe in the test section to reliably predict the actual test. This project will therefore analyse several case studies to correct any imperfections of version 3.0, update the calculation engine and identify and address any other software issues.

RP6.2-06: Assessing coatings for pipelines installed by HDD

The horizontal directional drilling (HDD) installation method is increasingly being utilised to install pipelines within the Australian industry. Due to the greater frequency of choosing this method, pipelines are being installed in harsh soil/rock conditions which can be detrimental to the integrity of their anti-corrosion coating. 

This presents a real technical and risk to industry when post installation coating integrity tests indicate the coating has been significantly damaged during the installation process, leaving contractor and principal debating the decision to leave or reinstall the pipeline section. At present there are no methods that provide an accurate indication of the extent of coating damage that can occur during HDD installation.

The aim of this project is to develop an improved, standardised test method for assessing the expected gouge resistance performance from of coatings that are used on pipelines installed via the HDD method, thereby allowing industry to rank the coatings performance.

RP6.2-07: Determining polyethylene coating longevity and deterioration

The project will examine the longevity and deterioration behaviour of coatings, in particular polyethylene (PE) coatings, on steel pipelines. This project will perform an extensive literature study and preliminary laboratory simulation tests using both laboratory aged coating samples and coating samples retrieved from the field. Specifically, this project aims to:

  • Develop a better understanding of various types of PE coatings (e.g. yellow jacket) on cathodically protected steel, their failure mechanisms of degradation and disbonding, and how the CP requirements for protection are influenced by coating failure.
  • To apply existing experimental methods to assess their appropriateness to understanding and determining the longevity of PE coatings, under complex various environmental, mechanical and CP buried pipeline conditions. 
  • Develop more certainty in regard to residual lifecycle management of PE coated steel, particularly around planning for end of life management or renewal/repair of the coating itself.
  • Achieving these aims will help reduce the cost of pipeline maintenance, and improve the integrity of the applied coating system.

RP6.2-04B: Shore Crossing Cathodic Protection Test Program – Phase 2

This project is a continuation of Test Program 2 of RP6.2-04 - Shore Crossing Cathodic Protection Test Program. During the previous phase of this research project (see RP6.2-04 project final report), physical model testing has been performed to confirm the interaction between onshore and offshore pipeline cathodic protection systems. These tests have provided useful data that are essential for developing engineering guidance for the design and operation of Cathodic Protection (CP) systems at pipeline shoreline crossings.

During recent review and discussion of these data, it has been identified that there is a need for some further testing under some more complex shoreline conditions in order to fill remaining gaps in the industry knowledge regarding CP at shoreline crossings. 

RP3-11C: Gas pipeline vent design and operation – Project 3: high voltage power lines

This research forms the third stage of a comprehensive study of a number of key issues arising from the design, installation and operation of high pressure gas pipeline vents. Pipeline vents are installed to discharge the contents of the pipeline during either emergency or maintenance activities and are designed for rapid depressurisation of the affected pipeline segment. The venting (or ‘blowdown’) occurs through one or more vertical vent pipes (‘stacks’) attached to the main pipe.

The first stage (RP3-11A) dealt with venting in remote areas on flat terrain. The second stage (RP3-11B) dealt with venting in built-up (populated) areas and focussed on vent noise reduction and its impact on the potential for vent ignition. The objective of project RP3-11C is to develop a better understanding of the possibility of power transmission lines to act as an ignition source during a blowdown, the conditions for ignition of methane/air mixtures, and therefore of the risks associated with high-voltage power transmission lines situated near gas pipeline blowdown sites.

RP3-11D: Gas pipeline vent design and operation – Project 4: Field testing of acoustic reflector

Previous research undertaken as part of RP3-11B investigated methods to reduce blowdown noise levels during pipeline venting operations in or close to populated areas. An acoustic reflector style noise mitigation device was identified as the most promising in terms of its ability to reduce noise while limiting its impact on the flow. Lab testing results at pressures corresponding to the onset of the sonic flow condition were in line with literature levels, and had negligible influence on the exiting flow in the absence of crossflow. 

Providing confidence that appropriately sized acoustic reflectors would provide an 8 dB reduction at such pressures. However, such a pressure (or venting speed) is significantly lower than that commonly encountered in typical field blowdowns. Literature results indicate that as pressure is further increased beyond the onset of the supersonic condition, increased noise mitigation performance is seen; however no results exist for pressures as high as those characteristic of true operational natural gas pipeline blowdowns.

This project will undertake research that will deliver understanding of the operational effectiveness of an acoustic reflector, on a scale vent operating at full typical blowdown pressures. This will enable formulation of general guidelines for the placement and operation of natural gas pipeline vents in population areas.

RP6.3-13: Fracture Control Code of Practice

Fracture mechanics is critical in understanding the modes of failure of pressure pipelines; specifically what sizes of defect will cause rupture, and the extent of a rupture (whether and where a crack will stop growing). Understanding these properties of a pipeline is important for risk assessment, and where it is possible, controlling fracture in new and existing pipelines is a risk mitigation that limits the potential consequence from a range of threats.

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