PRCI Members - Request for Material Properties Data

Thu, September 10, 2020

PRCI is requesting member support. We are in the process of publishing a pipe materials property database as part of the PRCI Virtual Technology Development Center (VTDC): this is being done, in part, to support the PHMSA mega rule, (US Federal regulation CFR 192.607) which states:
operators of onshore steel transmission pipelines must document and verify material properties and attributes in accordance with this section”. Whenever the pipeline mechanical properties are not Traceable, Verifiable and Complete (TVC), the pipeline operator shall “develop and implement procedures for conducting nondestructive or destructive tests, examinations, and assessments in order to verify the material properties of aboveground line pipe and components, and of buried line pipe and components […].
The regulation allows the pipeline operator to group pipes with the following similar attributes (or essential variables) into “populations”:

  • nominal wall thicknesses,
  • grade,
  • manufacturing process,
  • pipe manufacturing dates, and/or construction dates

Pipeline segment pertaining to the same population can, therefore, be treated as similar, and each test performed on a single joint from this population therefore can be applied to the entire population. The regulation allows for destructive testing to be performed, where “a set of material properties tests for minimum yield strength and ultimate tensile strength must be conducted on each test pipe cylinder removed from each location, in accordance with API Specification 5L.” As corollary, it can be deduced that destructive tests results from the pipeline manufacturing records, done in accordance with API 5L, can be counted towards the verified record to assess the mechanical properties of that population. These testing results can therefore be leveraged to perform statistical analysis as per CFR 192.607 (5).
The language in the code does not preclude the use of data from either:

  • multiple systems
  • multiple operators
  • External sources

Given that majority of gas pipelines in the US were laid before 1980 and in many instances, the assets have changed hands, it should be expected that while records may be available, utilizing those records may be challenging due to various reasons such as:

  • Records are not available in digital format
  • Records may not be organized in a way that lends itself to performing such analysis
  • Records may not be sufficient
  • Even though the code allows for the data to be collected at defined “opportunities”, the ability to collect additional data is challenging because of several reasons as well:
  • Destructive testing may not be feasible because of concerns related to loss of service, gas release, or contractual obligations
  • Non-destructive testing techniques are relatively new and the availability of tools, qualified technicians can be limited
  • Given the broad range of “opportunities” defined, the cumulative costs can be significant

Therefore, if the data currently available from various operators can be pooled so as to help perform such analysis and used to develop populations of similar pipe based on criteria defined in the code, this could lead to significant benefit for the industry by reducing the number of locations where testing needs to be performed in the near term. PRCI has already developed a database wherein data from material testing performed by one major pipeline consulting firm and various previous PRCI reports, including data available from GRI, has been compiled and organized with plans for PRCI to host it. It presents the industry with a valuable opportunity to add to the available records by donating additional data from individual operators as well as acquiring additional data from the various pipeline engineering consultants and labs. Procuring data from pipeline consultants is a particularly attractive avenue because most consultants would have relevant data that is more complete and likely well organized since most data would have been collected by doing destructive testing as part of metallurgical investigations for various reasons. The database currently does have data (complied by BMT) but, to be statistically significant, we are asking for additional data.
In order to facilitate this acquisition of data, PRCI could request this data from the various vendors on behalf of its member companies, backed by a release from the various companies. This would significantly streamline the process of populating the database with additional information. I believe this is a low hanging fruit and can be accomplished with relatively little effort and in a short amount of time. Please help facilitate this by providing a release/waiver authorizing PRCI to request material property data from the various consulting firms and labs.
If you know of others (including non-PRCI members) that have data that could support this effort, please forward this message to them. Initially, this will be a member-only database but we will grant access to non-members (including research contractors) that supply significant quantities of data to the database will also have access.
Please reach out to Munendra Tomar or Gary Choquette, if you are interested/willing to provide data to this database. All reports produced from this database will be blinded from information that would identify the corresponding operator.
Munendra S Tomar
Manager: Pipeline Integrity Process & Technology, Kinder Morgan
+1 (713) 420-6236
Gary Choquette
Executive Director of Research and IT, PRCI
+1 (402) 915-5565