Corrosion Kills! Safety New Priority Transneft, Pipe Manufacturers & Service Industry Debate Standards Upgrade

By Lada Ponomareva, June 23, 2013

The problem of pipeline corrosion remains one of the most topical problems for the oil-and-gas transportation sector. Pipeline systems make a significant impact on the environment and on the efficiency of transportation of hydrocarbons and other products. That is why a thorough pipeline monitoring, an  assurance of their safety and prompt detection of problem areas are of significant scientific and practical importance both for manufacturers of pipes and connecting pieces and service companies, as well as for oil and gas producing companies, production of which is transported by these pipelines. Another important factor is the updating of the relevant regulations and requirements not only to the pipeline construction, but to their projects as well.

Quality Problem

Late in April of this year, the Russian operator of the main oil pipelines of Russia, Transneft, expressed serious concerns regarding the ecological safety of the future main pipeline systems.  Head of Transneft Nikolay Tokarev directed attention of Prime  Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the work of the Ministry of Regional Development (Minregion) and Federal Agency for Construction, Housing and Communal Infrastructure (Gosstroy) on updating of the regulatory documents. According to the Izvestia newspaper, two regulatory documents were meant – SNiP (Construction Norms and Rules) for construction of main oil pipeline (prepared in 1985) and SNiP for main pipelines (prepared in 1980). According to the state company, the regulations adopted last year do not differ in content from the regulations adopted in the period of 1980–1985.

In 2012, Transneft and Gazprom developed approximately 900 comments for the existing SNiPs, but later this list was reduced to 15. “Transneft asked to specify everything in detail to the extent of amount of corrosion which is allowed on the electrode, and amount of corrosion on the welding wire. In general, companies insist on the high degree of detail. But we believe that the code of practice should not have this level of detail, it will make the document cumbersome,” Izvestia cited the words of Viktor Kirsanov, Deputy General Director of the self-regulating organization Neftegazstroi. Transneft experts, however,  believe that ignoring of the amendments proposed for these documents can entail serious consequences for the pipeline transport of the country and can potentially cause a man-made disaster.

Amirkhan Amairkhanov, Deputy Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Management, stands for more detailed elaboration of SNiPs: “SNiPs must take into account all regional features, as the conditions differ significantly, in one case – permafrost, in another one – desserts, in the third one – swamps. They must take into account not only construction costs, but also the above mentioned factors, take into account the ecological situation. Certainly, the deeper pipes are buried, there are more expenses, more removed soil and amount of work, but on the other side of scale there is a hazard of man-induced disasters”  (quoted from “Izvestia”).

Viktor Kirsanov, in his turn, is sure that the main problem of pipelines is their quality and not the depth. According to his opinion, “construction people do not