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Asset management of polyethylene gas networks

 

Papers # 2016 Berlin

For the UK polyethylene (PE) gas pipe network, the first installations now exceed 40 years in the ground, with an original design life of 50 years. It was thus timely to review the current condition and performance history of these first generation PE materials. A major 4 year project was started in 2010 to examine the condition of the buried PE gas pipe network. Aged pipe, fittings and fusion joints, manufactured from the first generation PE materials, were identified and extracted from service, together with pipe and joints recovered from maintenance activities. Over 1,000 aged pipe and fitting components were obtained, and 291 samples were subjected to chemical, physical, mechanical and hydrostatic tests. The primary output has been a snap-shot of the performance of the UK PE gas distribution system and a strategy for the longterm management of PE pipe assets.

For the UK polyethylene (PE) gas pipe network, the first installations now exceed 40 years in the ground, with an original design life of 50 years. It was thus timely to review the current condition and performance history of these first generation PE materials. A major 4 year project was started in 2010 to examine the condition of the buried PE gas pipe network. The project was funded by the two largest gas supply networks in the UK, National Grid Gas and Scottish and Southern Gas Networks, with encouragement by OFGEM, the UK energy networks regulator.

Aged pipe, fittings and fusion joints, manufactured from the first generation PE materials, were identified and extracted from service, together with pipe and joints recovered from maintenance activities. Over 1,000 aged pipe and fitting components were obtained, and 291 samples were subjected to chemical, physical, mechanical tests and 20C and 80C pressure tests. The resulting database provided a means of analysing in-service performance and correlating this with the property variations arising from the development of PE resin grades. An extensive “Timeline Database” was constructed, to record the materials properties and installation technologies as milestones in a referenced searchable resource.

For the majority of first generation PE materials used in the network, little or no evidence of significant deterioration was found. The primary output has been a snapshot of the performance of the UK PE distribution system and a strategy for the long-term management of PE pipe assets.

Related keywords : Polyethylene pipes, gas distribution network, condition and performance, asset management.
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