Despite a market downturn, the focus on integrity management systems remains a driving force in the oil and gas pipeline industry.
Global oil prices seem to be on a slight rebound, which could spell good news for producers and pipeline operators. Reuters recently reported that oil prices have risen 75 percent since hitting 12-year lows of around $27 per barrel globally in late January and about $26 per barrel for U.S. crude in mid-February. According to an April 28 article, Brent set a year-to-date high at $47.73 per barrel on the global market, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures hit a 2016 high for U.S. crude at $45.71.
While midstream development may still be slow this year, despite the increase in prices, experts have been forecasting a strong downstream market for 2016. Record mainline expansion over the last five years has helped move product to market, but it still must be connected to customers through distribution lines. As the low oil prices have led to the delay of some projects to install new pipelines, the importance of maintaining existing systems cannot be understated.
Despite the market downturn, ROSEN Group executive vice president Chris Yoxall says the oil and gas pipeline market remains viable, and the focus on integrity remains independent of the overall situation.
“The market sensitivity to achieving goals and objectives increases, whilst the overall tolerance to accepting non-performance decreases,” he adds. “Getting it right the first time is always important. However, in a sensitive market with little tolerance, this becomes critical.”
Regardless of the profitability of oil and gas pipelines, maintaining asset integrity is paramount to ensuring upstream, midstream and downstream infrastructure is safe and reliable.
“Many customers are driven by the challenges they face originating from different aspects of our business industry,” Yoxall says. “There is a need for managing these challenging environments and associated complexity, keeping in mind all stakeholders and the invested interest. At a high level, we need to support the management of our customer and market demands to ensure that decisions can be made in a timely manner to achieve the goals of asset care management with the ultimate goal of zero incidents.”
While low oil prices may have forced operators to shed costs, integrity remains one area that deserves high priority. Not only do thorough integrity management systems improve safety, they also promote pipeline efficiency.
In this issue, we feature three big stories that focus on integrity. First is our cover story on ROSEN Group, a global company that provides a complete approach to integrity management through inline inspection, pipeline cleaning and data integration to empower its customers through technology. Second is a look at computer-based monitoring to detect leaks by Lars Larsson of Schneider Electric. And last but not least, Roxy Mounter of WeldFit writes about automated pigging systems for corrosion control and ensuring optimal flow rates. All three of these stories show how integrity management improves oil and gas pipeline operations.
As the market improves, there’s no doubt integrity will remain at the forefront of the industry.