Updated Pipeline Standards Advance Effective Leak Detection
Posted May 16, 2022
API is proactively integrating modern technology and developing standards to advance safe and responsible natural gas and oil production in addition to complying with regulations as part of a shared goal of zero incidents and reduced emissions.
This is illustrated by two recently published API standards related to leak detection in liquid pipelines intended to help operators reduce the risk of incidents and improve operational integrity.
API Recommend Practice (RP) 1130, Computational Pipeline Monitoring for Liquids, and RP 1175, Pipeline Leak Detection – Program Management, were published in April in their second editions following a two-and-a-half-year process that leveraged industry expertise and modern technologies. While the principles outlined in RP 1130 and RP 1175 are for liquids, both are also generally applicable to natural gas pipelines.
RP 1175 provides guidance for pipeline operators to create effective leak detection programs (LDP), with the aim of identifying leaks quickly and with certainty, thereby facilitating rapid shutdown and minimizing negative consequences in the event of an incident.
Since leak detection is a multi-layered series of technologies and strategies, the 2nd edition of RP 1175 was developed to be flexible and adaptable based on an individual operators’ systems, equipment and programs. Further, using fiber-optic sensing was included in the revision, recognizing that the technology can play a role in leak detection.
“Fiber optic sensing-based pipeline leak detection and location software is possibly the most important technological development in pipeline leak detection in recent years. The inclusion of distributed fiber optic sensing in the latest revisions of the API RPs is a testimony to the technology’s contribution to leak detection,” Mark Uncapher, Fiber Optic Sensing Association executive director, said in a statement.
An interconnected standard, RP 1130 addresses Computational Pipeline Monitoring (CPM), or algorithmic monitoring tools that are used to enhance the ability of a pipeline controller to recognize hydraulic anomalies that may indicate a leak.
The newly published standards come as federal regulators, including the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), have put renewed focus on leak detection in natural gas and oil pipelines.
In late March, PHMSA issued a new rule that requires operators to install remotely controlled or automatic shut-off valves, or alternative equivalent technologies, on new and replaced onshore natural gas, carbon dioxide and other hazardous liquid pipelines. To improve safety and protect the environment, the new regulation also requires a pipeline leak to be addressed within 30 minutes after detection.
“We must continue to work towards zero incidents and zero releases from pipelines,” PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown said in a March statement. “More than a decade in the making, this new rule requires the installation of modern technology to mitigate the impacts of pipeline failures on people, first responders, and our environment.”
Even before PHMSA released the new rule, API was proactive in updating standards for leak detection in liquid pipelines to enable operators to quickly respond to incidents, mitigating harm to people, the environment, and property.
Together, RP 1130 and RP 1175 support PHMSA’s priorities by putting additional tools and leading practices in the hands of operators to more effectively monitor and manage potential liquid pipeline leaks. The updated standards represent only a small fraction of more than 800 API standards enhancing operational safety, environmental protection and sustainability across the industry as it powers the global economy.
About The Author
Anchal Liddar is Senior Vice President of API’s Global Industry Services (GIS) division, which is responsible for standards setting, certification, training, publications and safety programs for industry operations. Previously she spent nine years at The Boeing Company, serving various roles in supply chain, finance, and program management. Anchal holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California – Irvine and a M.B.A. and a Master’s of Science in Information Systems & Technology from Claremont Graduate University.