Topic: Key Points

Situations in life often permit no delay; and when we cannot determine the action that is certainly the best, we must follow the action that is probably the best. If the action selected is indeed not good, at least the reasons for selecting it are excellent.
–Descartes

Pipeline Risk Assessment

Risk assessment on any facility is most efficiently done by first dividing the facility into components with unchanging risk characteristics. For a cross-country pipeline, this involves collecting data on all portions of the pipeline and its surroundings and then using this data to ‘dynamically segment’ the pipeline into segments of varying length. Risk algorithms are […]

ILI vs DA—The Risk View

A rather common issue these days is decision making involving comparisons between In Line Inspection (ILI) vs Direct Assessment (DA, and, in particular, External Corrosion DA or ECDA).  You may need to research these techniques, if not already familiar to you, since we will assume the reader is fairly familiar with both. Both are acceptable […]

Damage vs failure: a risk assessment needs to know the difference

To measure resistance in a way most useful to a risk assessment, we must estimate the possible presence of weaknesses, the rate of emergence of future weaknesses, and the role of each weakness in strength reduction. By W. Kent Muhlbauer, WKM Consulting, Austin, TX, USA Since several of our recent columns have dealt with management-of-risk […]

Pipeline Reliability–Service Interruption As ‘Failure’

Generally, a pipeline’s reliability includes consideration of all leak/rupture scenarios PLUS all other scenarios that could prevent the system from performing its intended function.  With the normal ‘intended function’ being something like:  deliver product to point B from point A at specified flow rates, pressures, temperatures, and product quality, a reliability failure occurs when any […]

Measuring Failure Potential—What is Attacking? 

How Effective are Defenses?  Can it Survive? In several previous columns, we have noted the need for a very specific approach to measuring failure probability (PoF).  Three factors must be independently measured/estimated in order to fully understand PoF.  Let’s explore those factors a bit deeper here. Regardless of the definition of ‘failure’ being used, failure […]

Pipeline Risk Assessment: Threat Interaction—A Case of Confusing Terminology

As we continue this exploration of pipeline risk assessment, let’s tackle some terminology obstacles.  Pipeline risk assessment is a challenging topic on its own, so added confusion from terminology is most unwelcome. Background In some recent regulatory initiatives, a criticism has arisen regarding some pipeline operators’ failure to properly account for ‘threat interaction’ in their […]

The economics of acceptable risk

While avoiding the many nuances of ‘acceptable’ vs ‘tolerable’ risk and ‘How safe is safe enough?’ issues, let’s scratch the surface of setting, moving towards, or sustaining a target risk level. We begin with a premise that risk reduction is sought for some asset or collection of assets. We explore the risk reduction opportunities with […]

Due Diligence—Risk Costs of Asset Ownership

In this column, we occasionally highlight applications of risk assessment that are perhaps less apparent to some.  Since risk permeates almost all industrial endeavors, it is not surprising that risk understanding is or should be an essential part of many types of decision-making.  We have already covered risk assessment in incident investigation and as a […]

The PHMSA has recently criticised how Integrity Management Plan (IMP) risk assessments (RAs) for pipelines are being conducted. Do you also see problems?

There is a wide range of practice among pipeline operators right now. Some RA is admittedly in need of improvement, not yet meeting the intent of the IMP regulation. However, I believe that is not due to lack of good intention, but rather incomplete understanding of risk. Risk is a relatively new concept, and is […]