APGA understands the vital contribution that relevant research can make to the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline industry. The separately funded APGA Research and Standards Committee (RSC) was established more than 20 years ago and its role is to support research that is crucial to the ongoing safety, reliability and efficiency of pipelines. In addition to direct funding, APGA-RSC’s member companies also contribute valuable in-kind support that, in recent years, has brought the total value of its research program to more than $2 million a year. The committee also works closely with the pipeline committees of Standards Australia to ensure research results can be quickly applied to the industry’s highly respected national standard, Australian Standard AS 2885 – for the benefit of the industry and wider community.
Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre
The Energy Pipelines CRC was established in 2010 with the RSC as the industry partner. The CRC undertakes a number of research programs that are conducted by the university partners: the University of Wollongong, the University of Adelaide, Deakin University and the RMIT University. The CRC conducts four research programs:
More efficient use of materials for energy pipelines
The overall aim of Research Program One is to lower the cost and extend the life of energy pipelines by using materials more efficiently and avoiding material-related problems that result in economic losses. Researchers are examining welds and welding techniques, and a key goal is to produce a user-friendly industry tool for the prevention of weld-metal hydrogen-assisted cold cracking. The program is also examining methods that would increase the use of higher strength steels and assisting with the specification of line pipe steels and the determination of the mechanical properties of the steel.
Extension of safe operating life of new and existing energy pipelines
This program focuses on cost effectively extending pipeline infrastructure life by mitigating corrosion and environmentally assisted degradation of pipelines. One major area of research concerns coating selection, application and testing, supported by the National Facility for Pipeline Coatings Assessment (NFPCA) at Deakin University. Other research themes include cathodic protection and stress corrosion cracking.
Advanced design and construction of energy pipelines
This program aims to improve the design related factors in Australian pipelines that affect cost, reliability and safety. Active research within the area focuses on fracture control, hydrostatic testing, thermal transients and issues with new energy fluids.
Public safety and security of supply
The goal of this research program is to sustain the world’s best practice safety and reliability performance of Australian energy pipelines. In aiming to maintain this exceptional safety record in an expanding environment, the Energy Pipelines CRC is taking the unique step of engaging seriously with the social science research available from high hazard industries about how to prevent accidents.
Australian Standard AS 2885
The overarching Standard that applies to the pipeline industry in Australia is AS 2885. This Standard was developed by a working group from both industry and government. APGA and its members continue to actively participate in the design, review and development of the national Standard for gas and liquid petroleum high-pressure pipelines by participating as members and associates on Standards Australia development committees. AS 2885 relates to design, construction, testing, operations and maintenance of gas and petroleum pipelines that operate at pressures in excess of 1050kpa. The many other standards used by the pipeline industry are referred to in AS 2885 which is the principal document.
International research collaboration
Since the APGA Research and Standards Committee was established, its members recognised the benefits of international collaboration. As a consequence, a formal relationship was developed between the RSC and the world’s leading pipeline research organisations – the US-based Pipeline Research Council International and the European Pipeline Research Group. APGA’s links with these organisations allow RSC members confidential access to pipeline research undertaken by North American and European researchers, helping to reduce duplication of research efforts by all groups. The three research organisations also meet every two years at a Joint Technical Meeting to share results, discuss issues and determine future research priorities for the industry. The Energy Pipelines CRC, through the RSC, also participates in the Joint Technical Meeting.
Fast take-up of research
Since its establishment in 2010, research undertaken at the Energy Pipelines CRC has had an enormously positive effect on the pipeline industry. The CRC’s research can have an almost immediate impact across the entire sector as many outcomes are incorporated into the industry standard, AS 2885.
Industry representatives are closely involved in the work of the Energy Pipelines CRC, and this assists the CRC’s focus on issues of immediate relevance to today’s pipeline industry. For example, one research project compared processes and productivity of systems for welding pipe joints and the resulting knowledge can be applied to any transmission pipeline construction project.
Another project examined pipeline coatings to find out how to avoid coating cracking during pipe bending. This type of research improves the safety and efficiency of pipeline inspection and repair programs. Other research at the Energy Pipelines CRC is examining cathodic protection, a corrosion prevention measure, to provide increased compatibility with coatings.
Another Energy Pipelines CRC project has developed new sensors which will be used to collect data on corrosion, coating disbondment and degradation in operating pipelines and this will keep them safer and operating for longer.