Mainly, Andrew Hodkinson and Joel Thornton highlight the damage of a pipeline is mostly obvious after the commissioning of assets or later during operations.
Speaking for offshore oil and gas installations, they note that there is often the introduction of hot and pressurised fluids from reservoirs to subsea pipelines that create forces and stresses.
The pipe has to withstand the stresses so that the hydrocarbon is contained throughout the operation life of the field.
The pipelines are designed to allow thermal expansion, corrosion, environmental load conditions such as currents, various pressure profiles and so on.
In case of heating up, a pipeline most if the times will naturally elongate. Such elongation will result in some localised forces and stresses if anchor points are in play, but also the pipe might well deflect in a gentle and sometimes negligible manner.
In addition, if there are malfunctions, then a pipeline could buckle or rupture during commissioning or operation.
Concerning the root cause:
In the possibility of an accident, the most usual case is the one where the pipeline is close to the end of its design life.
Usually, an internal corrosion allowance is not included in the design such that the pipe wall thickness required to contain an operating pressure is based on a corroded pipe.
Whether the corrosion allowance isn't removed from calculations, then there could be an over pressured pipe scenario that wasn't expected. Yet, in operation this operating case may not manifest as a pipe failure until some years into the field operation.
Also, omissions could include:
- Not modelling for a corroded pipe;
- Incorrectly designed or installed cathodic protection;
- A change in process conditions;
- External impact to the pipeline (vessel anchors).
Also, the root cause may not be obvious and any ‘cold case’ design review would be best supervised by an Engineering Loss Adjuster, as Charles Taylors Adjusting has investigated in the past.
In addition, it is common that the reinstatement of old pipelines is costly and may contribute to the discovery of additional issues, during inspection.
As a result, an adjuster with engineering experience could be well placed to assess costs that are directly associated with any loss resultant from faulty design.
Charles Taylors Adjusting concludes that when Lawyers and Adjusters work as a team then the benefits to Insurers and their clients will include enhanced commercial relationships, reduced costs, maximum efficiency and an overall user friendly experience.