No. 1, 2006

Erimey Cherekchidi
President of JSC VNIIST


Pipeline transport safety is a priority of the Russian Economy

Russia's hydrocarbon pipelines are a sophisticated engineering system with a huge energy potential; it covers 35% of the country's area which accommodates more than 60% of the country's population. The safety of Russia's pipeline system is truly a national priority today. The All-Russia Research and Development Institute for the Construction and Operation of Fuel and Energy Pipelines (JSC VNIIST) is a leading institution working to solve that complex task.

Focus on safety

Russia's integrated gas and crude oil pipeline systems move energy flows in volumes unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Some gas pipelines have annual throughput capacities up to 250 billion m3. Existing pipeline systems provide for uninterrupted deliveries of crude oil, natural gas, and refined products to users, however, failures and accidents do occur. It is important to note that trunk oil pipelines were constructed mainly between 1960 and 1980, and most of the gas pipeline system was created between 1975 and 1990.

According to the Russian Ministry for Emergency Management, 2-4% of the GNP is lost in emergencies caused by accidents and man-made disasters. Major accidents in oil and gas industry, which is of strategic importance to the nation, may lead to grave consequences for the national economy and for the environment.

The Federal Law on Technical Regulation, passed three years ago, on December27, 2002, substantially changed existing approaches to safety. The law requires that technical regulations essentially new-type Federal regulations be adopted within seven years. The technical regulations were drafted by the authorities concerned in 2003-2005. They addressed various aspects of safety: biological safety, mechanical safety, fire safety, industrial safety, emission safety, as well as electromagnetic compatibility and uniformity of measurements. The next step is to have those regulations adopted, whereupon only safety requirements will be mandatory.

The new technical regulation system comprises the regulations proper and a safety compliance evaluation system (a certification procedure), such evaluation being voluntary or mandatory, and a standardization system. The standardization system is a set of adjustable and economically sound rules and standards (national, industry, and corporate) to be applied on a voluntary basis.

The introduction of the concept of risk in the Law on Technical Regulation called for using probabilistic analysis methods to provide for safety of potentially hazardous industrial facilities on a life-cycle basis (from survey to design to construction to operation to decommissioning).

Advanced countries have been making broad use of quantitative risk analysis in many sectors (such as rail transport, atomic energy, and chemical industry). The methodology has been designed as a tool for assessing major accidents, which are quite rare, so the only way to determine their probability and consequences is by using statistical methods. That most universal safety assessment method, known as probabilistic safety analysis (PSA), is quite effective when applied to the pipeline transport. In the future, therefore, PSA should become an organic component of the new technical regulation system.

This approach is in line with international practices. In 1982, the European Community passed a Sevezo Directive on the prevention of major industrial accidents. It obligated enterprises to conduct risk assessments and to take action to prevent potential accidents and to prepare for accident management. In furthering the Sevezo Directive, guidance and recommended safety levels were established for pipeline systems in the years that followed: the Netherlands Oil and gas Exploration and Production Association (NOGEPA) Code (1987) for offshore pipelines, the Code of Simulation Rules and Standards of the Scandinavian Committee for Facilities' Safety (Nordic Committee on Building Regulations (NKB), 1978, 1985), and the European Gas Pipeline Incident Data Group (EGIG, 1999) for onshore and offshore pipelines depending on the safety class of the facility. Lastly, a draft international standard ISO/DIS 16708 Petroleum and natural gas industries Pipeline transportation systems Reliability-based limit state methods was issued in 2004. It contains recommendations on and principles of using probabilistic approaches to predicting trunk oil pipeline safety during design work and operation.

Focus on systematic and universal approaches

Probabilistic Safety Analysis is a systematic and universal method. It provides a comprehensive view of all the aspects of a pipeline facility's safety: technical, fire, and environmental safety. PSA looks at both technical aspects of safety and human factor implications and is used at all the stages of a trunk pipeline's life cycle.

The PSA methodology makes it possible to analyze statistical data to identify accident initiators and root causes, to simulate accident scenarios to include design prevention measures, to identify bottlenecks and outline organizational and technical measures to prevent adverse development of emergencies.

The practical application of the PSA methodology includes the concept of acceptable risks, i.e. it recognizes that risks cannot be eliminated entirely. So one of the strategic objectives of the PSA methodology is to plan organizational and technical interventions to keep risks related to commercial use of trunk pipelines at socially acceptable levels. Another important goal of this methodology is to ensure technical and information compatibility of other countries' trunk oil pipeline systems in order to overcome trade barriers and to access international markets.

Probabilistic safety analysis should be applied on a life-cycle basis. During the trunk pipeline design stage, PSA is used to identify potential failures, to explore the causes thereof and to analyze potential adverse implications of failures identified. PSA also sets safety requirements for standard trunk pipeline facilities, conducts reliability and safety assessments using modern calculation methods, identifies dominant contributors to trunk pipeline accident probability, identifies design bottlenecks and assesses the adequacy of performance monitoring and diagnosing devices and methods planned. Besides, according to the PSA methodology, the design stage should involve efforts to validate the need for using extra alarm, monitoring, and diagnosing devices and methods, to develop proposals to modify product design or manufacturing processes, and to analyze personnel's emergency management efforts.

During the operation stage, according to the PSA methodology, critical element and process listings shall be periodically updated. Besides, it is required to assess the adequacy of monitoring, diagnosing, and failure prevention interventions that are part of the monitoring procedures and to develop proposals concerning upgrading, diagnosing, and repair priorities.

The development and implementation of safety interventions as part of the PSA methodology should follow the five major principles. First, the interventions must be mandatory: all the procedures at a given facility should be safety-oriented and provide for maximum responsibility for safety. Second, the universal approach: all safety provisions must be organized and implemented to cover all potential high-probability risks and hazards. The third principle is prevention: all safety provisions shall be implemented in advance, gradually increasing in scope and intensity. The fourth principle is reasonable adequacy: safety provisions shall be planned and implemented with due regard for reasonable adequacy thereof in terms of scope, schedule, and economic feasibility. The fifth principle is differentiation: the safety provisions' nature, scope, and completion schedules, as well as implementation procedures should be differentiated to fit the unique features of the region, and to provide for efficient use of manpower, materials, and financial resources.

Five protection levels

At present, Transneft is implementing a PSA-Based Trunk Pipeline Safety Concept. The Concept was developed by the All-Russia Research and Development Institute for the Construction and Operation of Fuel and Energy Pipelines (VNIIST). The Concept views a trunk pipeline as a system with a multi-layered protection comprising the entire range of safety provisions, from correct pipeline route evaluation and selection to preparation and implementation of accident-prevention plans. Thus, the PSA methodology is a tool for accident prevention as well as accident management and containment.

A multi-layered accident-prevention system comprises five protection levels. Level 1 involves analysis of the pipeline location, the quality of the pipeline design, and measures to prevent failures during normal operation. Level 1 provisions cover trunk pipeline route evaluation and selection and pipeline design work. Verified and approved programs and methods are used for designing structural members, pipeline systems and equipment; principal design features are tested and the quality of pipeline components and of the design work, manufacturing, installation, and checkout of the equipment is assured. Level 1 includes provisions to keep the pipeline's safety-critical components in working condition and to replace failed equipment or pieces that are beyond their service life or to extend equipment service life in accordance with the established procedure.

Level 2 includes measures to ensure that normal-operation systems prevent design-basis accidents (DBAs), a DBA being a standard to which the pipeline facilities are designed, with the accident's initial and final conditions identified and safety provisions in place to keep its consequences within certain limits. Level 2 provisions detect and eliminate deviations from normal operating conditions of trunk pipeline facilities, systems, and components.

Level 3 provisions are intended to prevent DBAs and beyond design basis accidents (BDBA), i.e. accidents caused by reference states not covered by design or those accompanied by safety system failures or personnel errors not encountered in design-basis accidents and entailing grave consequences.

Level 4 provisions are intended to prevent expansion and to mitigate consequences of BDBAs. Level 5 has to do with preparation and implementation of accident prevention interventions.

At present, VNIIST is working, in accordance with Transneft's R&D plan, to develop basic regulations to adapt the PSA methodology to trunk pipeline safety practices. According to those regulations, which are to be finalized by the middle of 2006, probabilistic safety analysis will be used in designing new oil pipeline systems and in upgrading existing ones. When in place, the regulatory framework will make it possible to bring trunk pipeline facilities into conformity with the requirements of the Law on Technical Regulation. A major role in implementing PSA methodologies will also be played by the Technical Committee for Trunk Pipeline Transport National Standardization. All this will help to meet the strategic objective of enhancing the safety and extending the service lives of Russia's pipeline systems. And that is the number one of the Quality Goals set to VNIIST.

Russia's huge pipeline network, about one million kilometers long, will be further developed in the 21st century, for the purpose of expanding exports of crude oil, natural gas, and refined products both to Europe and to the Asia-Pacific region.

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Oil of Russia, No. 1, 2006
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