We all constantly evaluate risk during the course of our everyday lives – whether it be consciously or sub-consciously. In any given set of circumstances, our perception of risk will determine what action we take, from when (or when not) to cross a road to whether or not we buy holiday insurance.
Whether to accept or avoid the risks we encounter is normally a personal choice, even if it is not a conscious one. These risks are termed ‘voluntary risks’ and we tend more willing to accept the consequences of our decisions when dealing with voluntary risks. However, there are also risks of which the general public may not be aware, at least until something goes wrong, but we accept on a societal level. These are referred to as ‘involuntary risks’.
An example of a generally accepted involuntary risk is the pipeline infrastructure that runs through rural areas, towns and cities, which deliver the fuel and power we rely on to heat (or cool) our homes, cook our food and run our cars.
Pipelines have a good record of safety in comparison to other transport methods, e.g. rail, road, tanker, and therefore the accepted societal risk is justified, though any failure usually attracts a level of unwanted media attention and public protest. However, the increasing age of the world’s pipeline infrastructure means there is an increasing demand to proactively manage pipeline integrity and to minimise the risk failure in the most efficient manner possible for safe and reliable operation.
This article discusses the role of risk-based integrity management (RBIM) planning for the purpose of controlling risks, and its importance in terms of pipeline integrity management.
What is Risk-Based Integrity Management Planning?
Risk is a function of the probability (i.e. likelihood) of some event occurring, within a given time period, and the consequence of that event, which is usually negative. A loss of hydrocarbon containment from a pipeline in a built-up area, or environmentally sensitive location, is a prime example of this.
RBIM planning is a form of risk management that is used to identify threats, evaluate risk and optimise integrity management activities by selecting appropriate mitigations and focusing resource on addressing the highest risks in a timely fashion. RBIM planning is therefore considered to be a fundamental aspect of any pipeline integrity management system (PIMS), regardless of its age.
An overview of the RBIM planning process is provided below:
- Data collection and integration
- System definition and segmentation
- Threat identification
- Probability of failure assessment
- Failure mode assessment
- Consequence of failure assessment
- Risk evaluation
- Risk mitigation
- Integrity planning
Why Risk-Based Integrity Management Planning?
The benefits of risk-based integrity management planning are recognized throughout the industry, as demonstrated by many international industry codes and standards, e.g. ASME B31.8S, API 1160, PD8010, etc., which place a strong emphasis on a risk-based approach to integrity management.
The alternative to RBIM planning is some time-based frequency which may result in excessive inspection of low-risk assets, or more importantly, insufficient inspection of high-risk assets. The benefits of a risk-based approach are illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Management of Risk Using RBI (API 580)
AIE can offer subject matter expert support in all aspects of pipeline integrity management, including pipeline RBI planning and integrity assessment.
Our multi-disciplined team of engineers can use their expert knowledge of industry best practices to provide the highest quality pipeline integrity assessments to provide our clients with accurate remaining life predictions and recommended responses to key assessment findings.
In addition to AIE’s highly qualified and experienced Pipeline Integrity Engineers, we utilise our industry leading in-house pipeline integrity management software, Veracity Pipeline, which allows operators to efficiently manage the integrity of their pipelines. The software provides operators with a user-friendly and systematic approach to pipeline RBI planning, which forms an integral part of pipeline integrity management.
The software is fully integrated with complementary Veracity modules: Veracity Anomaly, Veracity CCM and Veracity Inspection to bridge the gap often encountered in data management.
For further inquiries on pipeline integrity management support, please contact our team today.