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Oil pipeline leakages 'zero' in UAE

posted on 14/03/2013: 1491 views

The UAE, one of the world's largest crude exporters, has managed to control oil leakages from its field pipelines by implementing protection plans bringing such incidents to zero levels, a Western expert said on Wednesday.

But Yves Gunaltun, a corrosion expert at Total UAE, admitted that there are leakage problems in the Gulf and other oil producing countries of the Middle East.

"Authorities in the UAE apply a ‘zero leak policy' and operators have put important pipeline integrity programmes in place,” he said in an interview with Iris Media after a corrosion conference in Abu Dhabi last week.

"Yet, there are important pipeline corrosion problems in the Gulf,” he added.

He cited the following three reasons for the pipeline corrosion problems:

--Most of the pipelines are exceeding their design life. Even small corrosion rates (0.2-0.3mm thickness loss /year ) result in 6 to 10mm thickness loss after 30- 40 years.

--Increase in water production.

--Some oil pipelines are contaminated by bacteria.

Gunaltun said the problem in the Gulf, which controls over 40 per cent of the world's recoverable oil deposits, is more severe for some pipes of small diameters pipe as no chemical treatment has been done.

Asked about the costs of repair or replacement of pipelines damaged by corrosion, he said they "significantly” depend on the environment (onshore or offshore), pipe diameter, pipe length and production loss during maintenance or replacement.

"For example, for offshore repairs the cost would be as much as a few millions of dollars. For replacement of important large diameter / long pipelines, we are talking about tens of millions of dollars. Generally the operator pays for the replacement and repairs. Then part of the cost would be back charged to shareholders,” he said.

"For old oil fields with hundreds of pipelines it is not unusual to have four to five leaks a year. This is the case in all regions around the world and also in the Middle East. However, in the Middle East, there has been no catastrophic failure causing major damages to environment,” he added.

According to Gunalton, the oil industry has developed reliable pipeline corrosion control systems that have been used for several decades, adding that the important issue is the selection of the right corrosion control system.

"Unfortunately some of these systems may be expensive for some applications and consequently not applied for economic reasons,” he said.

"It is up to the operator to verify regularly the integrity of the pipelines and to make necessary repairs / replacements before pipeline leak/failure. For some companies like TOTAL, there is no place in the world where the environment is not sensitive to hydrocarbon production. That is why they use necessary corrosion control systems strictly,” said Gunalton. – Emirates 24|7


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