Future Pipeline Infrastructure Condition
Infrastructure Condition Overview
According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), there were no planned major pipeline improvements in the region in 2022. This does not include abandonments; minor projects that do not include any facilities; projects under the blanket program; storage projects or LNG terminal projects that do not include pipelines.
FERC does not publish information about projects beyond those pending approval in the current year. However, pipelines with larger diameters and/or additional miles of pipeline may be needed in the OKI region to accommodate capacity demands, which are expected to rise from the increases forecasted for future pipeline volume.
Future Pipeline Technologies
Pipeline infrastructure requires ongoing maintenance, planning and new technologies to help the industry shift from being reactive to proactive. There are several new technological advances that will assist in pipeline safety in the future.
The pipeline industry is testing lightweight polymers in pipelines, which are applied in thin layers to help improve compression resistance of steel pipe, increase its insulating effect, and reduce pipe corrosion caused by friction. Preliminary testing has shown to improve strength, toughness, increase resistance to corrosion, and reduce wear within steel pipe.
It is common practice to apply epoxies to the inside and outside of pipes, which reduces corrosion and the potential for serious spills. Concrete coating on pipelines is durable and helps with buoyancy, especially in shallow-water pipelines. This type of pipe is extremely costly to ship in large sections, which has led piping manufacturers to construct modular components that can be trucked to a pipeline staging and installation site, which minimizes the finished pipe’s travel distance to the final project location.
The use of robotics technology for pipeline maintenance that detects stress points and splits, and immediately repairs them, are being tested in larger diameter underground pipes in the United Kingdom. Robots are placed in the pipe where they inject sealants to stop leaks, which are most often found at joints. This procedure saves, time and cost compared to digging to expose the pipeline and fix the leak.
Remote Sensing and GIS Advanced Analytic Techniques
In addition to robots removing the need for onsite personnel, advances in high-resolution remote sensing and Geographical Information System (GIS) image processing technology are revolutionizing the industry. They enable staff to use digital surveillance methods to monitor and detect changes on and around pipeline networks.
(Source: Ygin Gajjar (GSPL India Transco). Monitoring of Pipeline ROU Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques. Proceedings Publication from the Pipeline Technology Conference. (March 22, 2022).)
Drone Pipeline Inspection
Source: Aerofex Corporation. Aerial Pipeline Inspection website. (2022).