Pipeliners Podcast

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Bryan Crowe, the COO of SolSpec, joins the Pipeliners Podcast to discuss new technology for supporting pipeline integrity and the inspection of ground movements along pipeline right-of-ways.

Listen to host Russel Treat and Mr. Crowe discuss the complexities involved in assessing soil movements, especially in different terrains across the country. Plus, the need to monitor, analyze, and report on pipeline integrity in rugged terrains, why not all data is good data for making complex decisions, and how new technology and mapping is improving operators’ ability to perform right-of-way and inline inspection.

Also listen for timely analysis of the latest PHMSA Advisory Bulletin on recent pipeline incidents and events that point to next steps for the industry to address pipeline movements.

Pipeline Integrity: Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms

  • Bryan Crowe is the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President for SolSpec. Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn or email Bryan at bcrowe@solspec.io.
    • SolSpec is an Aerial Asset Management company that specializes in remote sensing, photogrammetry, data management, and data visualization for industrial environments.
  • Integrity Management (Pipeline Integrity Management) is a systematic approach to operate and manage pipelines in a safe manner that complies with PHMSA regulations.
    • CFR 192 and 195 provide regulatory guidance on the pipeline transport of natural gas and hazardous liquids, respectively.
    • HCA (High-Consequence Areas) are defined by PHMSA as a potential impact zone in the event of a pipeline leak or failure. For gas transmission pipelines, HCAs are determined by populated and occupied areas. For hazardous liquids, HCAs are based on population areas, the presence of drinking water and ecological resources that are unusually sensitive to environmental damage, and commercially navigable waterways. PHMSA identifies how pipeline operators must identify, prioritize, assess, evaluate, repair, and validate the integrity of gas and hazardous liquid transmission pipelines that could — in the event of a leak or failure — affect HCAs.
  • The PHMSA May Advisory Bulletin (PHMSA-2019-0087 | 84 FR 18919) was issued to remind owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines of the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by earth movement from both landslides and subsidence in variable, steep, and rugged terrain and for varied geological conditions. These conditions can pose a threat to the integrity of pipeline facilities if those threats are not identified and mitigated.
  • Bcf represents billions of standard cubic feet of gas. The equivalent is 1,000,000,000 standard cubic feet.
  • Slips or Slides are earth movements that occur when a significant mass of land moves at one time or over a period of time.
    • Translational Slip occurs when an entire area gives out, causing a landslide.
    • Rotational Slip occurs when a bowl forms underneath the ground and dirt moves across in a circular motion. This creates less surface evidence of slippage unless monitoring detects subtle changes over time.
  • A Gabion basket is a galvanized steel wire mesh compartmented basket with a rectangular boxshape used to control earth movements.
  • LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges to the earth.
  • Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs.
  • Geodetics (or geodesy) is the measurement of the earth’s geometric shape, orientation,  size, and gravity and the exact positions of points on its surface. Geodetics is used in geospatial analysis and predictive modeling.
  • GIS (Geographic Information System) is a method of capturing the earth’s geographical profile to produce maps, capture data, and analyze geographical shifts that occur over time.
  • Inclinometers measure angles of slope (or tilt), elevation, or depression of an object with respect to gravity’s direction.
  • ILI (Inline Inspection) is a method to assess the integrity and condition of a pipe by determining the existence of cracks, deformities, or other structural issues that could cause a leak.
    • Pigging refers to using devices known as “pigs” to perform maintenance operations. This tool associated with inline pipeline inspection has now become known as a Pipeline Inspection Gauge (PIG).
  • IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) is a survey device installed at a smart pig to indicate the location of the center line on the pipeline.
    • AGM (Above Ground Monitor) recalibrates the IMU to ensure an accurate reading of the center line.
  • HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling) is a minimal impact trenchless method of installing underground pipelines in a shallow arc or radius along a prescribed underground path using a surface-launched drilling rig.

Pipeline Integrity: Full Episode Transcript

Russel Treat:  Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast, episode 81, sponsored by Gas Certification Institute, providing training and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for custody transfer and measurement professionals. Find out more about GCI at gascertification.com.

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Announcer:  The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, Bubba Geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now your host, Russel Treat.

Russel:  Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time. 

To show that appreciation, we’re giving away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener each episode. This week, our winner is James Rienmann at Dominion Energy in Ohio. Congratulations, James, your YETI is on its way. To learn how you can win this signature price, stick around to the end of the episode. 

Bryan, welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast.

Bryan Crowe:  Thanks for having me.

Russel:  So good to have you. Maybe the best way to start here is tell the listeners a little bit about your background, how you became a pipeliner, how you got into the business.

Bryan:  After high school, I went directly into the military, this aviation stuff with helicopters. When I got out, I went through a military placement firm in a company at the time, Dixie Pipeline Company, which is now owned by Enterprise.

They are recruiting military people as the technicians. I got into Dixie’s I&E technician training program. It transitioned me from aviation role over to oil and gas. I started in a little terminal in Milner, Georgia, operating a propane pipeline and doing I&E work out there.

Russel:  Interesting. What branch of the military did you serve in?

Bryan:  I was in the Navy.

Russel:  Thanks for your service. I am an Air Force guy myself and I did the same thing. I found a company that placed guys out of the military many years ago. It’s how I started my career. Interesting.

Now you’re with a technology company, I came across you guys at API. I was really fascinated by the technology. How does a pipeliner become a tech guy?

Bryan:  It’s really interesting. I really don’t consider myself a tech guy still. I’m still learning, but throughout my career — I’ve been in oil and gas for 16 years now — unfortunately, I’ve been involved with a couple different releases and major instances.

One of them was down in Mississippi, when I was a control room operator. Then whenever I switched careers, basically, I went from more of operations to management. I went to work for a company up in the Northeast called MarkWest.

MarkWest, they were one of the first ones up in the Marcellus and Utica. They had rapid growth, so from 2008, there was basically zero BCF up there. Today, I think they’re moving — and Marcellus and Utica as a whole is moving — about 43 percent of nation’s dry gas.

We have this large uptick, this huge increase. As I was growing in my career, and making it from supervisor to manager to general manager, increasing responsibilities, my exposure to risks and big data was starting to change.

Big data started being a thing, and a lot of people were collecting all this data. Then they would just put it on a decision-maker. If you don’t actually have that last mile figured out, that last mile deliverable, it’s really hard as a decision maker to sit down and go through a terabyte of data, and try to figure out which slip or which geohazard is the most dangerous one.

In 2016, I had an individual named Toby Kraft came out, and he wanted to fly a UAS drone on one of my pipelines to show me what kind of landslide hazards I potentially had. We gave him a 10-mile project as a pilot project.

He went out and flew, gave me all this data. It was nice data, but it wasn’t actionable. It didn’t tell me which ones were the worst. It didn’t prioritize stuff for me. I started working with them, building out algorithms, and all this.

In 2016, right after I inherited West Virginia operations, the company I was working for had a pretty significant landslide event. We went out there, and it didn’t look bad. It was on a flat right-of-way. It ended up being a rotational slip, which is different than translational slip.

Russel:  Okay, I got to stop you there. You’re going to have to define that for me, because I have no idea what those two things are.

Bryan:  Rotational slip is a little bit scarier to me. When you think of a landslide that’s typically a translational slip where the whole hillside falls down, and you have a giant dirt flow coming off of a hill slip.

A rotational slip, there’s some kind of a bowl formed underneath the ground and the dirt moves across this circular motion. It rotates instead of just falling off the side of a mountain. What that does is it gives you less indication that you’re actually having a slip unless you’re detecting it over time.

If you just go and walk a right-of-way, the grass may cover that rotational slip, but you may have two, three feet of movement over a couple of hundred feet which puts a ton of stress on your pipeline.

Russel:  Wow.

Bryan:  Yeah.

Russel:  That’s fascinating. What would cause ground to move in a rotation like that?

Bryan:  We’re building in Appalachia, in Marcellus and Utica which is heavily wooded, steep slopes, with not the best soil types out there. The clay base, the soil has a tendency to really move, soak up water. Whenever the water gets soaked up, it creates movement on the right-of-way and even off the right-of-way, which could impact pipeline right-of-ways.

The water usually wants to take the path of least resistance, so that’s typically in an open cut. You just lay a pipeline, you backfill it, and then now the water’s going to channel down with the pipeline unless you put the correct controls in place to mitigate some of that.

Russel:  Yeah, that makes sense actually. I can visualize that in my mind. I’m going to try to play this back just to make sure I understand. Basically, what’s happening is once you cut a trench and lay a line, you’re in effect creating a channel for water flow.

Bryan:  Exactly. There’s ways to mitigate that. Obviously, you can put in drains. You can put in Gabion baskets, retaining walls. You can compact it correctly. It does create additional construction requirements that are needed for steep slope in these kinds of environments.

Russel:  Everybody knows water runs downhill. I’m certain that creates certain problems, too, in a hilly area that you wouldn’t have in a flat area.

Bryan:  Exactly.

Russel:  Nothing’s perfectly flat. Anybody who’s been in the hills of Appalachia, walked up and down those things, has a sense of just how steep they are.

Bryan:  Yeah, they’re very steep. Water bars and channeling water is very important to maintain a positive integrity on right-of-ways.

To get back to where I was going with all this, 2016, I go out and one of my managers that works for me calls me and tells me there’s a difference in where the pipeline should be and where the alignment sheet says it is. This is typical in the industry. Sometimes the alignment sheets aren’t exactly where they are, and you have to go in and modify those and get the right as builts and such.

We go out there and we’re looking at the right-of-way, and it’s showing an eight-foot bend, which could have just been somebody bent around a rock in the right-of-way. There’s lots of examples of why it should be there.

It was significant enough to where as a responsible operator, like the company I came from was, they didn’t want to take the chance, and we went in and shut it down. Shutting an NGL line, leaving a hydroplane in is pretty significant. If you shut in the liquids without any kind of storage, you’re impacting all the gathering on the upside of that.

It’s a decision that as a manager, it’s pretty heavy that you have a potential of shutting in 1 to 10 million dollars in revenue a day. But you want to be safe and you want to keep your employees safe, so there’s that pressure.

The data that we didn’t have at the time — and I wasn’t able to make the decision — it made me want to shut the pipeline down, which we did. This wasn’t a translational slip, like I described earlier, it was a rotational slip. It wasn’t as obvious but it was the right move. We ended up having to rebuild the hillside.

We took an extended shutdown, put everything back together and got it flowing safely and correctly. We never had a release. Everything was done upfront. There was a time period in there, just like any other time period, where you’re trying to gather the information and you want to make a timely decision.

Instead of taking five to seven hours to pull all the data together — if I would have been flying the flights and I had a right-of-way integrity management program in place — I would have actually captured this well ahead of any kind of movement of the pipe, well ahead of any kind of movement on the slips. This would have been mitigated well upfront.

Russel:  Would you be able to mitigate that kind of movement if you catch it early enough without having to do a pipeline shutdown?

Bryan:  Yes, you can. If you start detecting soil movement ahead of pipeline movement, which is usually the case, you can start seeing your channeling and erosion, you can detect your movement in between all your different flights.

You can be proactive and install drain tiles, Gabion baskets, fix the channeling of the water. You can take weight off the top of the pipeline, put it on the bottom of the pipeline right-of-way. Just physically remove dirt from the top and stabilize the toe of the slip.

There’s many different things that you could do ahead of time before you get into a problem where you feel like your pipeline has enough strain on it, where you’re worried or not whether if it’s actually going to yield.

Russel:  I guess that clearly defines why it’s so important to detect these things early. What’s the challenge given the classic ways of monitoring this? What’s the challenge of actually seeing this?

I think the big data challenge, that’s probably a conversation that could be had in a lot of domains. We’re getting a whole lot more data, and in some cases, we’re actually getting less information. We’re actually burying what we need to see in the data.

Bryan:  Yeah. From challenges of identifying slips in data, that’s two different questions. I’ll start with the data part of it. Data is only good as the decisions that you can make from it. Too much data is actually a problem and the timely impact of data is also a problem.

If I go and fly 10,000 miles, and I don’t give you a report back for 30 days, what happens in those 30 days? A lot can happen. Timely, accurate data is really critical to effective decision-making in pipeline integrity.

What we are focused on is providing timely and effective data which means scalable solutions that if you fly today, you have an answer either tonight or first thing in the morning. That’s something that we haven’t had without the ability of sending technicians and physically walking the right-of-way to get that data back out, which isn’t the safest thing to do.

Russel:  Yeah, I think you said a mouthful there, Bryan.

Bryan:  Yeah.

Russel:  You said something earlier. I want to go back to it because I’m going to co-opt your statement. You said data that doesn’t help decision-making is useless. I don’t think you said it exactly that way.

Bryan:  Yeah, you’re exactly right. If you’re a decision-maker, and you’re over a five-state region, how much time do you actually have to make decisions? Do you have time to go through a spreadsheet that has 10,000 entries on it and determine which one of those is the highest priority for you?

Russel:  Yeah, there’s all kinds of reasons why doing good analysis is challenging.

Bryan:  Exactly.

Russel:  Distractions, blocks of time, having the skills, being familiar with the data, and all the limitations of the technology. There’s all kinds of reasons why doing that kind of analysis is challenging.

Bryan:  Yeah, and that’s what really got me into the tech world. I saw this need for this last mile deliverable. Specifically with the rapid growth and the significant impact of any kind of outage in the Northeast, not only on the oil and gas operators but the nation’s energy as a whole, it got me really thinking about this.

The more I worked with Toby and this company that I’m currently working for, SolSpec, the more it got me wanting to help deliver these solutions.

Russel:  How does this technology work?

Bryan:  We talked about the challenges of finding slips and landslides. How do we do it currently?

There’s ways to go out there — you can survey hill slopes — but, traditionally, what’s been taking place is mandated aerial flights from a patrol plane with an individual looking out over the wing and looking down. That’s how we’ve captured a lot of the slips. Outside of that it’s been people physically patrolling the pipeline.

After a significant rain event, one of the decisions — being over the region that I was over — is I had to send individuals out on the right-of-way, in problematic areas, to determine where slips are.

If there were areas that we felt were high probability or high impact, we would send individuals to walk the right-of-way there. It’s a good thing to do, but we never want to put our employees directly in harm’s way.

There’s ways to mitigate all that, but at the end of the day that’s really what we’re doing. We’re asking people to go walk whenever there’s a higher risk of a probability of something happening.

Take it back a little bit, as far as what we’re doing, where I’m at with right-of-way integrity management. The technology is pretty simple — photogrammetry, LiDAR, whatever geodetic information that you can have.

Russel:  You just threw out a bunch of buzzwords, so let’s unpack them. You said LiDAR. What is LiDAR? It’s basically a laser reflective technology. I’m sending a laser out and I’m reading the reflection back.

Bryan:  Exactly. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It’s remote sensing that uses light in the form of a pulse laser to measure different ranges. What’s great about LiDAR is it penetrates vegetation better than photogrammetry. If you have leaves on and you’re trying to detect slips outside of the right-of-way, LiDAR is a lot better solution because you can actually penetrate those leaves.

Russel:  Yeah, there’s other values. You said photogrammetry. That’s just photography, basically.

Bryan:  It’s high-resolution photography. You can actually create 3D, geospatial maps using the photogrammetry. You can utilize ground control points to correct your z-value, which is your elevation accuracy.

There’s ways that you can install devices on the airplane itself that can utilize satellites to create accurate z-values on photogrammetry as well. There’s lots of different technologies. Those are the two that we utilize the most. What we do is we’ll go and fly an entire right-of-way.

Russel:  The other words you used that I want you to give us a definition for is geodetic data. I’ll make a guess. I’m a civil engineer by education. Basically, geodetic data is survey data. It’s giving you points in space in three dimensions.

Bryan:  Geodetic is accurately measuring to understand earth’s geometric shape, orientation, and space.

Russel:  Basically, it’s geospatial but related to the earth’s surface.

Bryan:  Yes. For me, I’m really new in the GIS world. Geodetics, to me, is how it applies to the surface. It’s the map that is generated that we use to determine analytics and predictive analysis. That’s really how I would define what that is.

Russel:  Yeah. Actually I think that’s a good definition in terms of how it’s used.

Bryan:  We fly the right-of-ways and we get all this data, we process the data. One of the first things we do is we want to look for any kind of immediate threats. We pull out all the active slips so we can get that back to the operators, so they can go and determine if there’s an immediate threat to the pipeline.

That’s actionable data that they need to make decisions, so that’s the first thing we’re going to give them back. Outside of that what we want to do is really start determining what is the actual risk per location on the entire system.

If you had a bucket of $10 billion to go and do repairs and mitigative measures to prevent failures of pipelines, how do you best allocate those resources? If you only have 15 pipeline technicians for a 400-mile area, which areas are you going to send them to first? As a decision-maker that’s all real critical stuff that you really want to know. You don’t want to be guessing at that.

What we do is we take all of this data, we put it together. We’re looking at classification, high-consequence areas (HCAs), environmentally sensitive areas. We’re looking at the slope angle, soil type, every potential thing of data that we can do. We’re using a simple — we call it right-of-way integrity management, like a risk platform — but it just goes back to integrity management.

You know what your hazards are, you know what your risks are, and you multiply them out. It tells you which pipelines, which areas have the highest risk. Then you use the resources that you have and you go and try to mitigate those risks. What we’re providing operators is that framework to make those actionable decisions.

Russel:  I recently did an episode on risk management, really unpacking what it is. Basically, it’s just tools and techniques and methods for making better decisions.

I think one of the things you’re pointing out in this conversation is that the value of the decision-making is putting your resources where they have the most impact and finding those things quickly that need to be found quickly.

Bryan:  Exactly. You want it to be accurate and you want it to be fast. If you can get ahead of some of this, then you’re winning. You want to be proactive and not reactive.

Russel:  I think one of the things that is interesting about this is that this particular risk is a bigger issue in Appalachia than in other producing areas. It’s an area that we’re learning a lot.

The technology has been around for a long time, but the nature of the risk and the difficulty of patrolling the pipeline right-of-ways in Appalachia is different than elsewhere in the country.

Bryan:  Also, you have to understand, since 2008, the industry, they’ve constructed and installed and put in service thousands of miles of pipelines in this very difficult terrain. This is terrain in which you have to tie off an excavator to two dozers on top of the hill just so you can actually put the pipeline in with the amount of steep slope.

There’s only so many ridge tops in Appalachia. You do end up with some side slopes. You do end up with not the most ideal locations to install pipelines. You have to make sure that the mitigation, your water bars, your environmental controls are installed and operating correctly to ensure the integrity of your pipeline.

Russel:  I know that PHMSA has been putting out some information about this subject. We talked briefly before we got on the mic about the May advisory bulletin. Maybe you can walk us through that.

Bryan:  There’s been a significant amount of events that’s happened up in the Northeast. Additionally, I think there was one in North Dakota.

For example, there was an incident in 2016 in Lycoming County (PA); another one in Billings County, North Dakota, up in the Badlands; Marshall County, West Virginia, Moundsville; West Virginia. There was another one in California. It’s not specifically linked to Appalachia, but there is this larger potential in Appalachia that caused PHMSA to send out this advisory bulletin.

Basically, the advisory bulletin is just a reminder because 192 and 195 both speak of geohazard threats. But all owners and operators of liquid and gas pipelines know that earth movement — particularly in variable steep and rugged terrain with varied geological subsurface conditions — can pose a threat to the integrity of a pipeline.

What it does is the earth moves, it puts a ton of strain on the pipeline, and it can cause a rupture or a failure of that pipeline, or it can result in a kink or lost throughput as well. PHMSA put out some steps to ensure that people are looking at this. It’s looking at surrounding areas of pipeline that may be prone to large earth movement.

Utilizing geotech engineers during the design, construction, ongoing operations, developing, designing, construction, and monitoring plans and procedures for each of these identified locations based on site specific hazards, it talks about how you actually do monitoring plans.

You go all the way back to the construction. During the construction of it, build it right, monitor it, collect that data, have that data so you can determine if you have any kind of movements.

Conduct periodic visits and site inspections. Increase your patrolling if it’s necessary, specifically after any kind of rain, heavy rain, flooding, or when you’re going from winter to spring when you have the melt off, also making sure you’re increasing your patrols during that time.

Installing geodetic monitoring points, installing slope inclinometers, that can be used to detect movement in specific high risk areas. Evaluating accumulation of strain in the pipeline by installing strain gauges. Conducting stress/strain analysis using inline inspection tools.

There’s a couple of vendors out there that are utilizing IMU and some other high-resolution information and inline inspection that they can detect if there’s any kind of movement on the pipeline.

Russel:  What is IMU? Do you know what that particular acronym is?

Bryan:  Yeah. IMU is an Inertial Measurement Unit. That’s a device that goes from the pig itself…

Russel:  It’s a high-fidelity GIS device.

Bryan:  Exactly. It’s a survey device that they install on a smart pig and it tells you where your center line is on your pipeline.

Russel:  I did a whole series a while back with a friend of mine who’s a PhD in inline inspection. That little acronym, I need to go back re-listen to some of my own episodes.

Bryan:  IMU’s been around for a while and it’s really neat. If you can maintain the accuracy of your pigs with maintaining the speed and your AGMs — which is your Above Ground Monitors, those things recalibrate the IMU — it gives you very accurate center line data. That’s something that you can utilize to check against your as builds to make sure everything is matching up.

Russel:  Right.

Bryan:  Utilizing aerial mapping, LiDAR, and photogrammetry to track changes in ground conditions which is the field that I’m in now. Developing, mitigating measures to remediate identified locations, mitigating measures could include rerouting HDD.

If you know you’re going to go into a problematic slope area, you can do a geostudy, do some core drills, and do an HDD, which means Horizontal Directional Drilling, and you can just drill all the way underneath the hazard. Even though there may be a hazard above ground, the pipeline is safe because it’s well below any kind of potential hazard that may happen.

Drains. It’s amazing what a properly installed water bar, which is nothing more than a channel or a ditch that you can cut across a right-of-way, can do to mitigate landslides. To properly do hydrology studies, mitigate the water issues on the surface of the right-of-way, it really impacts the stability of your slopes on these right-of-ways, so that’s something that’s huge.

Trying to reduce steepness and potential unstable slopes installing trench breakers, we talked earlier in the episode about the water channeling down the right-of-way. Trench breakers is one of the things that you can install and divert trench flow to a safe discharge point on a right-of-way.

Instead of it channeling down the right-of-way to a PI, Point of Intersection, where the pipeline may create a lot of weight and cause a movement and a rupture, you can actually mitigate that ahead of time. Building retaining walls or installing pylon to actually stabilize the hillside is another thing that you could do.

You can compact backfills. Proper compacting prevents the channeling of the water. Drying the soils, not putting wet soil back on the right-of-way also helps a lot. Regrading the pipeline right-of-way to minimize scouring and erosion. Proper restoration, putting the proper backfill. Putting the proper seed mix to make sure that you have the vegetation growing correctly, all of that really helps stabilize the hill slides.

Russel:  [laughs] This conversation once again reminds me that everything’s easy until you know enough about it.

Bryan:  Exactly. Coming from South to being an operator in the Southern states to Appalachia, it was a very big eye-opening experience for myself. You’re not used to those particular kind of risks in Louisiana.

Russel:  We have different kinds of risks.

Bryan:  Exactly.

Russel:  We have flood risks and river crossing risks. Such is that, that occupy us.

Bryan:  Yeah, and it’s still a geohazard risk. It’s a still a geodetic erosion. You can utilize a lot of the same methods to determine right-of-way health, but right now, our focus has been on the Appalachian because of the growth and the higher risk up there.

Russel:  Hey, Bryan, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. One of the things I like to do is try to wrap this up into three key takeaways. I’m going to try and do that real quick, and then you can give me a score, and tell me how I did.

Three key takeaways about pipeline integrity and soil movement. I think the first one is this, like a lot of other subjects, is really a very complex and involved subject. It involves a lot of factors. I think that’s my first key takeaway.

I think the second key takeaway is that there is a need in these rugged terrains for monitoring, analysis, and reporting that’s accurate and prompt. Then, lastly, there’s a lot in this that’s related to how you move water. Snow, thaw, rain are events that need to be looked at, considered when they occur, and what the impact is. Those are my three takeaways. Did I miss anything?

Bryan:  No, you got it. The last one, part of our right-of-way integrity management program isn’t just building the threat model upfront. It’s also, once you have that threat model, determining where your key points are.

If you did have a failure, and it was going to impact a school, that would be a higher-weighted area. If you wanted to go fly your top 10 percent as an operator after a rain event, that’s the tools that we’re giving these individual companies, is that we can say, “This is your highest risk, so when you have four inches of rain, or three inches, you go and fly this hundred miles of pipeline.”

That would have the greatest impact to the safety of the public, environment, and your operations. A lot of companies are utilizing drones and outfitting their pipeline technicians, which is a great thing.

What it does is two things. It makes that the pipeline technician a lot more efficient. You can imagine you could fly a drone a lot quicker than you could hike a mountain in Appalachia. The other side of it is, you don’t have an individual walking in mud, flooded areas, up and down right-of-way, high chance of getting a sprained ankle.

On top of all that, you know you have a higher risk of actually having a failure of a pipeline or a hillside. You’re removing them from that as well. Having a right-of-way integrity program really increases the safety of your operations, and it also makes it a lot more efficient on emergency response.

Russel:  Again, Bryan, thanks for being a guest. How would somebody reach out to you if they wanted to have this conversation in more detail?

Bryan:  We can go to the SolSpec website. Our website is solspec.io, or they can email me directly at bcrowe@solspec.io.

Russel:  Great. Just for the listeners, we will be linking up the PHMSA May advisory bulletin, and we’ll reach out to Bryan. We’ll make sure that all his information on the Pipeliners Podcast website is current.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast and our conversation with Bryan Crowe. Just a reminder before you go, you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Visit pipelinerspodcast.com/win to enter yourself in the drawing.

If you would like to support this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Google Play, Stitcher, or whatever smart device podcast application you happen to use. You can find instructions for this at pipelinerspodcast.com.

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Russel:  If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let us know on the Contact Us page at pipelinerspodcast.com, or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.

Transcription by CastingWords

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