PNGRB draws new guidelines for oil and gas pipeline safety

PNGRB draws new guidelines for oil and gas pipeline safety

Business Standard reported that Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board has worked out new guidelines for implementing a safety mechanism for the country’s oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

The new guidelines come close on the heels of the latest 350-tonne oil spill in the ecologically sensitive Sunderbans, giving a tough time to Indian and Bangladesh authorities.

The regulator has floated the draft of the new guidelines, PNGRB Integrity Management System for Petroleum and Petroleum Product Pipelines Regulations 2014, for consultations. They will be applicable uniformly to all oil companies.

PNGRB said in its draft rules that “These regulations shall cover all the existing and new petroleum and petroleum product pipelines. This includes the associated facilities required for transportation for petroleum and petroleum products through pipelines, including storage facilities, delivery stations or terminals, intermediate pigging facilities, pumping stations, etc.”

The new rules, built on a similar mechanism followed in the US to protect oil infrastructure, aim at evaluating risks associated with pipelines and allocating resources for their prevention; improve safety of infrastructure to protect personnel and environment and having effective systems to minimise pipeline failures.

While the latest oil spill in Sela river, that runs through the ecologically fragile Sunderbans, resulted from the sinking of an oil tanker after it collided with another vessel, most oil spillage accidents in India have occurred owing to bursting or leaking of pipelines. Such incidents have often resulted in large scale fires. A case in point is the June 2014 fire in gas utility GAIL’s pipeline in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. Over 14 people had died and 15 critically injured in the gas leak-cum-pipeline burst.

Under the new system, all pipeline operators would have to conduct in-line inspection of pipelines to locate deformation, corrosion, detection of pressure loss due to rupture and use of sensors for detecting oil and gas leaks.

Also, the companies would have to conduct ground, aerial and electronic surveys at regular intervals to locate and check leakages and pilferage. Satellite imaging methods will also be used to check pipeline disruptions every month.

The IMS was first employed by the US’ Department of Transportation in 1970 which led to the development of Managing System Integrity for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines document.

In India, commercial use of petroleum pipelines started in the late 1980s with the commissioning of Guwahati-Barauni petroleum pipeline.

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