If there’s one word ROSEN Group embodies, it’s “integrity.” The company provides a wide range of services that aid the oil and gas pipeline industry in monitoring and maintaining asset integrity.
The meaning of integrity in the oil and gas pipeline sector has blossomed in the last decade. High-profile pipeline failures have turned an industry best practice into a household term and a regulatory mandate. Within the industry, integrity always connoted safety, reliability and efficiency. The methods by which operators achieve these goals, however, have become increasingly technology-driven and data-focused.
ROSEN’s products and services range from asset inspection to ensure reliable operations to customized engineering consulting for integrity management, as well as market-driven research and development. For the pipeline industry, that means providing inline inspection (ILI), cleaning services and data integration as part of a comprehensive integrity management system.
The company focuses on empowering the market with technology to enhance operations by making them safer, more cost-effective and more efficient. In addition to the oil and gas pipeline sector, ROSEN provides integrity solutions to a wide range of industries, including energy, process, mining, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation.
ROSEN was established in 1981 as a one-man business in Germany by Hermann Rosen, and the company has since grown into a global company that operates in more than 120 countries with more than 2,800 employees.
The company has six locations in North America. With its U.S. headquarters in Houston, ROSEN USA’s other two offices are in Gahanna, Ohio, and San Luis Obispo, California. The company’s Canadian affiliate ROSEN Canada Ltd. operates out of Calgary, Alberta. In Mexico, the company’s operating unit H. Rosen de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. has offices in Mexico City and Veracruz that focus on business in Mexico and
Chris Yoxall is an executive vice president of the ROSEN Group and responsible for the geographical regions of the United States, Mexico and Central America. He started in the asset integrity business in 1990 and has been with ROSEN for the last 19 years. Yoxall established the company’s office in Australia in 1997 and relocated to Houston in 2009 following the establishment of ROSEN Asia Pacific. In his time in the industry, he has seen many changes.
“Whilst change is evident in the past 10 years, it’s probably as important to look at change over a much longer period,” he says. “By example, in the past, ILI reports have typically been received by mechanical engineers, addressing ‘where do I need to make my next repair?’ These days, reports are received by integrity engineers, addressing what needs to be done to prevent future repairs.”
While integrity management has always been a focus in the pipeline industry, Yoxall has seen the involvement of other stakeholders evolve, with the public, regulators and independent engineers taking a more active role in the industry as it has “moved from a descriptive-based to a prescriptive-based practice.”
Daryl Ronsky is an executive vice president of the ROSEN Group, responsible for Canada. His experience in the pipeline industry goes back almost 40 years with a primary focus on pipeline integrity for the last 20. He joined ROSEN seven years ago and says many factors go into pipeline integrity management.
“A pipeline integrity management system relies on a number of core elements such as people, procedures and methodologies, as well as software and, of course, reliable and complete data,” he says. “Data integration is involved with collecting, organizing and integrating all relevant and available data and integrating pipeline data from various sources, including inline inspection, maintenance records and operational data.”
Jan Frowijn is managing director for ROSEN Mexico and Central America. He joined ROSEN Europe in 2000 at the company’s office in Oldenzaal, The Netherlands. He was transferred to ROSEN USA in the 2006 and has been in his current role for the last two years. Frowijn says ROSEN works closely with its customers in all regions to overcome challenges associated with pipeline integrity management.
As a way of establishing itself as a leader in the pipeline integrity sector, ROSEN is actively involved with groups such as NACE, PRCI, ASME, INGAA, SGA and many others worldwide.
“As an industry leader, we have a duty of care to remain involved supporting many organizations, where we can engage and provide guidance where needed,” Yoxall says. “It is also an important platform for industry learnings, experience exchange and understanding more about the market challenges and needs, both now and in the future.”
The demands of the oil and gas pipeline industry have evolved over the last 15 years, Yoxall says, with an
increased focus on integrity management programs. The timeframe to act has been better defined and in many
“Many customers are driven by the challenges they face originating from different aspects of our 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 both of our customers and our market demands to ensure that decisions can be made in a timely manner.”
While new regulations in the past decade have led to changes in the industry, Yoxall says meeting governmental standards isn’t the biggest challenge for those managing oil and gas pipelines.
“As an industry, regulations have always been present,” he says. “This is managed and guided by industry codes, standards and recognized best practices. The regulations certainly have an impact on business. However, as an industry our future challenge remains around ensuring that all stakeholders cooperate and work within a cooperative environment and learn from each other.”
While there may be regional differences where ROSEN operates in North America, Yoxall says the company “strives to keep a consistent philosophy and approach” throughout its business units in the United States, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.
In Canada’s oil and gas pipeline industry, Ronsky says standards have been developed over time by a committee of operators, regulators and service companies. He adds that there is a strong standards-based requirement in Canadian pipelines with CSA Z662 Standards governing design, operations and maintenance practices.
“Operating companies also have a strong self-motivation to ensure compliance among peers, and organizations like CEPA with their Integrity First program are actively working to ensure responsible actions broadly across the industry,” Ronsky adds. “Pipeline operators have a goal of zero pipeline incidents, and CEPA Integrity First brings the industry together to collaborate and challenge each other’s practices to help them reach this goal.”
ROSEN has been involved with the Mexican oil and gas industry for more than 20 years, Frowijn says, but only in the last few years has the country allowed foreign investment. The country’s oil and gas sector — including pipeline development — was almost exclusively the domain of state-owned petroleum company Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) for more than 75 years, until President Enrique Pena Nieto ended the monopoly in December 2013 as part of ongoing economic reforms.
As private companies have started moving into Mexico, the construction of additional natural gas pipeline capacity is significant, Frowijn says. As such, construction companies and operators are seeking to implement best practices related to integrity management early on in the asset life-cycle.
“With growing demand, expansion of the pipeline network and now more than one gas pipeline operator taking on shared responsibility for the transportation and distribution of natural gas in Mexico,” Frowijn says, “the successful transfer of management of the integrated system of gas transportation and storage to the
National Natural Gas Control Center (CENAGAS) is in my opinion of paramount importance.”
As seen worldwide, aging pipeline infrastructure is among the biggest pipeline integrity challenges in Mexico. Frowijn says maintaining pipeline integrity is imperative, especially in times of challenging economic conditions.
Lots of Data
As pipeline inspection has become more technologically advanced, data management has become a growing need in the industry.
“There is a significant volume of data collected, not only by the inspection tools, however, from many different sources and services,” Yoxall says. “The different ILI tools capture various volumes of data, subject to the service provided.”
With more and more data being collected, one might wonder, does it ever become too much? Not according to Yoxall. Instead, it’s more a matter of focusing on the quality of the information and how it is used to maintain integrity.
“As the volume of data grows, the management of the information becomes critical to support the right decisions in a timely manner,” Yoxall says. “This will also achieve an industry practice that becomes independent of the knowledge of individuals and more about systems and repeatability.”
Increased data means integrity service providers need “ever faster and smarter data processing algorithms and storage capabilities,” Ronsky says. However, the “huge amount of data” collected allows ROSEN to provide “an enhanced view” of the pipeline.
For example, data from repeat inspections of the same pipeline can show the development or growth of potential integrity threats or “features.” In addition, correlating data from different inspection technologies can provide a broader picture of the asset.
“ROSEN has been on the forefront of developing new and improved inline inspection technologies and is continuing to invest in innovation, research and development,” Ronsky says. “Nowadays, inline inspection is also applied to collect data about aspects beyond the pipeline’s geometry and loss of wall thickness, including cracks, coating disbondment and for pipe grade determination.”
As technology has improved, ILI has become a proven method and an integral part of almost any pipeline integrity management program, Ronsky says. The use and application of ILI continues to grow and supply more information about pipeline assets.
“For the operator more data and more granular data means they have information which allows them to make more informed decisions about the pipeline’s integrity,” he says. “More data means that they can look at features from multiple data sets to allow them to discriminate between types of features more easily.”
Pipeline owners face many operational challenges today, and Ronsky says the three biggest are: Clearly understanding the threats facing pipelines, whether from third parties or within the pipe; selecting the right tools to address the threats; and integrating the myriad datasets to improve decision making.
“There are many threats which are well understood and which have well known tools to identify and quantify them,” Ronsky says. “This information comes from service providers directly and from peers in the industry. The challenge is greater when threats are new and detecting and quantifying them is not as well known. In this case working closely with vendors from data to ditch is very important so that each pixel of data is understood and used to its best purpose.”
Low Prices Impact
As low oil prices have led to market contraction and project delays over the past year and a half, ROSEN’s leadership team is optimistic about the future of the industry.
“The industry is directly affected by low oil prices,” Yoxall says. “However, this has occurred in the past. Typically, upstream becomes initially affected with an impact of projects, which are usually canceled or postponed. It must however be noted that it’s more than the low oil prices, as there are other influencing factors that impact our industry. When these all take place within the same time period, this has a collective impact.”
Despite the market downturn, Yoxall says the oil and gas pipeline market remains viable, and the focus on integrity remains independent of the challenges.
“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.”
In Mexico, Frowijn says the timing of the market downturn could not have been worse. It came right at the start of the country’s implementation of its historic energy reforms.
“We have seen delays in the assignment of new contracts and the re-prioritization of work, including integrity management services in existing contracts,” Frowijn says, adding that the focus on short-term cost cutting measures could lead to “potentially undermining the realization of these long-term performance goals” of making the Mexican energy sector more competitive.
Reducing costs is a common theme throughout the pipeline industry, Ronsky says. ROSEN is working to become “more efficient while at the same time maintaining the highest level of quality.”
ROSEN has been involved with managing industry challenges for 35 years, and Yoxall says the company continues to strive for improvement.
“We need to be mindful of the susceptibility to integrity threats that impact business,” Yoxall says. “Challenges often relate to understanding the business environment we occupy and working in cooperation with all stakeholders. Our industry has a focused commitment to drive a safe and sustainable future.
We need to maintain and build upon the knowledge and experience invested to achieve the ultimate goal of
Bradley Kramer is managing editor of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.