New Century and Integrity Plus Blog

Pipeline Repurposing: The Oil and Gas Industry is Innovating

Posted by Shelly on Nov 13, 2014 1:47:51 AM

It has been said, “The oil and gas industry’s approach to change has often been compared to the formation of fossil fuels themselves: slow, steady and done under pressure” (Jeff Wilson). However, this adage no longer holds true in many industry circles.


Out here in the west (as well as the east and Canada, for that matter), where fracking has taken hold, this sentiment is as dated as a coiled rattlesnake striking a lonely cowboy. Fracking has produced material that needs to be moved immediately and efficiently, and the industry needs to keep pace.

To manage the increase in material produced, the Oil and Gas Transmission Industry has figured out an innovative and creative way to re-use existing pipelines to help communities who were once importers of their natural gas to become exporters of the stuff.

How? Flip the flow. Southbound becomes northbound and eastbound becomes westbound. Voilà! You now have a pipeline that flows in the direction you need without having to build additional lines that cost time and considerable money.

But is it as easy as it sounds? Of course not. There are many risks to consider. (Yeah, there’s always that!)

For one, you’re now using the pipeline to do something that it was not originally intended to do. It may be transporting thicker materials at higher pressures. So new threats can arise; threats that may not have been explored during the initial pipeline design.

Like any good pipeline creation project, the Oil and Gas Industry must use whatever is needed to keep us all safe and still get us what we need in a timely manner. Thanks to risk assessment and integrity management experts, we can understand the threats of reversing the flow and repurposing equipment to ensure safety and reliability.

Here are just three ideas to consider when repurposing a pipeline:

  1. Hydro-test. Hydro-test. Hydro-test!
  2. Think of repurposing a pipeline as you would a new construction project: How can risks be identified and problems mitigated?
  3. Combine ILI (inline inspection) technologies to search concurrently for multiple defect types.

Now, what other ideas can you think of to make repurposing safe and cost-effective? Share your ideas on LinkedIn or on Twitter!

Psst... Next week we're releasing Facility Manager 5.0 and you'll now be able to reverse routes quickly and simply. Keep an eye out for details!

Topics: Pipeline Operator, Integrity Management, Risk Assessment, Pipeline, Data Management, Hydro-Test

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