In pipeline design, the safety of people and the environment is the principal focus.
First, engineers look to answer the question, what’s the best way to move the oil or gas where it needs to go?
Then, a flow analysis determines the diameter of the pipe and pressure needed to move the desired volume.
Material choice answers questions like:
- How strong does the pipe need to be to withstand the pressure needed?
- And how will the pipe stand up to operating hazards?
Potential hazards are designed for, and affect:
- route selection,
- depth of cover, and
- number and placement of valves.
Thicker pipe is used near populated areas, and at road, rail and water crossings.
And isolation valves are suitably placed to reduce the potential impact to environmentally sensitive areas in case of a failure.
Moisture in soil can also cause pipelines to corrode. To prevent this, protective coatings are applied to the pipe. Where they’re welded together, they’re also protected with another coating before the pipe is buried.
And, if the coating is damaged during construction, a backup called Cathodic Protection is also in place to protect the length of the pipe.
It uses electric current to divert corrosion onto a series of metal anodes buried close to the pipe.
The anodes are then replaced every 10 to 20 years depending on their condition.
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