Over five years ago, our pipeline group developed what we call the Engineering-Based Integrity Management Program (EB-IMP). EB-IMP is a five step process that we apply with pipeline companies to evaluate different types of anomalies. In the five steps, a Level 1 analysis basically involves researching the pipeline codes and standards to find out what the codes and standards have to say about a particular anomaly. For example, if the pipeline codes said I could have a dent with a strain in that dent up to 6%, but yet we had a dent with a 10% strain, how would we evaluate that? Obviously a Level 1 analysis wouldn’t fully define the issue, so we would have to go to a Level 2 analysis which typically involves some kind of the empirical data based on prior research. A Level III analysis is basically using finite element analysis or some kind of numerical modeling to re-create an anomaly. These first three levels are based on the principles embodied in API 579 which is a well-recognized fitness for service document.
At Stress Engineering we have added two additional levels. A Level 4 analysis involves full-scale testing. We will take a piece of pipe, re-create the anomaly and destructively test it to truly understand what the limit is. A Level 5 analysis is where we actually design a repair solution for that particular anomaly. Over the past 20 years, Stress Engineering has become world leaders in evaluating composite repair technology. More often than not, we design repair for branch connection, dents, corrosion, girthweld defects, and end up designing and testing a composite repair solution. There are pipeline companies all around the world that have used our EB-IMP process and we believe it gives operators confidence that they can operate safe pipelines based on a really good understanding of anomalies.