Upstream Gathering System Pipeline Integrity Management

Pipeline Integrity Management Solutions for Safe and Reliable Upstream Operations

Upstream Asset Integrity teams are recognizing the need to have an improved understanding of their assets to protect capital investment, mitigate risk, ensure the safety of public, as well as adhere to new state/provincial and federal regulations. It is increasingly apparent that effectively managing pipeline integrity data, and ensuring efficient integration and analysis, are key steps in transforming data to information, and to knowledge, to support confident decision-making. 

Several significant factors have helped spur the drive towards efficient data management, integration, and analysis. These include improvements with inline inspection (ILI) technologies, specifically for upstream systems, changing regional and federal regulatory requirements, and continuous merger and acquisition (M&A) activities. 

The benefit for operators to understand these key factors that impact their upstream pipeline assets has started to take precedence. However, developing a sophisticated Integrity Management Program (IMP) to align with their existing integrity systems and procedures is not always a straightforward process. There can be both internal and external challenges which are outlined as follows. 

  • Upstream pipelines not considered key assets by management
    There is a common misconception that upstream pipeline systems are cost centers and do not directly contribute to revenue generation. Due to this, there is often limited resources and budget allocated to develop upstream IMPs and associated risk mitigation programs. Senior leadership teams are starting to reframe their ideologies to consider the impact that upstream assets have on the overall value chain. If a pipeline incident occurs, it will immediately be taken out of commission, thus causing halted production, and resulting in a direct impact to the company’s bottom line. 
  • Ownership and management of upstream pipeline data requires resources  
    A key challenge for upstream operators is collecting, integrating, and managing the vast amount of pipeline attribute and integrity data. Historic acquisitions and divestitures, asset transfers, limited regulatory requirements and rapidly changing system configurations can create challenges for operators to ensure complete and accurate system integrity records are maintained. Pipeline integrity teams are placing priority on taking ownership of their data to better plan, execute and document integrity programs to support confident decisions based on proven analysis and data trends. 
  • Risk-based decision making is not typically formalized within upstream integrity management
    Historically, upstream operators have not had a need to have a defined risk assessment procedure in place. For operators that did, their risk assessments have predominantly been used for regulatory compliance purposes and are often limited in scope, repeatability, and decision worthy results. As more data and integrated data management systems become available on the market, operators are placing precedence in developing a sophisticated IMP with the ability to integrate multiple types of inspection data, produce performance dashboards, benchmark against KPI’s and execute maintenance and mitigation programs based on the risk results, all of which are key to risk-based decision making. 
  • Integrated integrity data management systems are heavy and difficult to implement and maintain 
    As our industry evolves, upstream operators are going beyond using spreadsheets, local folders and network drives for data storage, analysis, and visualization. The optimal approach to facilitate the move to a more sophisticated, integrated approach is to build systems and automation around the data management and analysis. This requires resources, defined data management processes, people and systems. Current advances in data integration, spatial data processing and display, and web-based user configurable applications are helping to address these challenges and create a modern integrated integrity data management reality.

To remain competitive, upstream operators who embrace digital transformation and leverage technology solutions as part of a dedicated and robust IMP will substantially increase their pipeline asset system reliability, safety and ensure their limited integrity budget is allocated to where it is needed most. 

Dynamic Risk offers unique, industry-leading integrity management solutions that help upstream operators understand their over-life threats, consequences, and focus mitigation and repair activities on at-risk assets before a costly failure occurs. Contact us today to discuss how our team of experts can best support your pipeline integrity management needs for upstream gathering system assets.