Palembang Pipeline Leaking – Aging Pipeline to Raise Risk Exposure

Muhammad Abduh (

Pipeline transporting crude oil leaking on Saturday April 5, 2008. The line that served 265 kilometers TempinoSungai Gerong of Trans-Sumatran Pipeline, leaking at milepost KM 8.3 released about 5 barrels crude oil. The spill made a little environment disturbance to the surrounding villagers rice plant. Operator company had already mitigated the leaking 8 hours after the first report. Pipa Minyak Bocor di Palembang Apr-08

Fig. 1- Media Coverage of Palembang Pipeline Leaking 5 April 2008 (Metro TV, Kompas, Antara).

This leaking follows recent accidents reported in Indonesia pipelines are: Samarinda 4 April 2008 (Antara), Belawan 10 March 2008 (liputan6), Cilacap 9 March 2008 (Tempo Interactive), Tuban 21 January 2008 (Metro TV), Grissik-Singapore Subsea Pipeline 2007(Antara), Karawang 16 November 2007 (Antara), and Surabaya 24 May 2007 (Antara)

The leaking pipeline which was constructed in 1983, according to an authorized company man, reported to have a corrosion problem. Previous pipeline leaking from this area were reported in Sukarami March 4, 2004 and in Pangkalan Balai October 29, 2004. These pipeline accidents occurred in high consequence areas in the proximity of villagers rice plants and residential.

Pipeline Failure Consequence

Pipeline failures sometimes lead to significant impact to economic, environment, and human safety:

1. The Prudhoe Bay Oilfield Shutdown to shock United States Oil Production; 2. Oil tapping from leaking pipeline in some African nations to cause large fatalities; 3. Guadalajara Fuel Pipeline Explosion to create tremendous fatalities and infrastructure damage; and 4. Ghiselenghien Gas Pipeline Explosion to cause business interuption cost in a Belgium industrial park.

Figure 2 – Adeje and Lagos 2006 Pipeline Explosion Nigeria (National Geographic, 26 December 2006)

Figure 3- Pipeline Explosion at Ghislenghien Industrial Park Belgium 2004 (

Aging Pipeline and Risk Triangle

The pipeline accident in an aging system is likely to occurred. Global pipeline accident record summarized the cause of pipeline failure as follows:third party damage (31%-50%), corrosion material and construction defect (32%-41%), unknown and unclassified causes (6% – 25%). Muhlbauer risk triangle can be suggested to examine the probability of pipeline failure. The probability of failure is governed by three variables: exposure ,resistance, and mitigation. Aging pipeline raise the possibility of failure due to corrosion growth with time. Expanding line or unmaintained right of way raise the possibility of failure associated with time-independent third party damage.

Figure 3 – Muhlbauer Risk Triangle

The risk triangle proposed that to keep probability of failure constant or within acceptable limit, pipeline operator should raise the effort to mitigate the risk from pipeline aging with time and exposure to third party damage. These can be done by: 1. Intensively monitoring and assessing the pipeline condition; and 2. Performing more extensive public awareness program.

Pipeline Integrity Standards

Several integrity standards for pipeline (API 1160 for liquid, and ASME B31.8S for gas pipeline) has already provided systematic procedures for enhancing the integrity of pipeline. The guidelines cover: High Consequence Area Identification, Integrity Assessment (ILI, pressure testing, and direct assessment), Risk Assessment, Anomalies Classification, Repair Method, and Mitigation Option.

The Toolbox for Pipeline Integrity Program

1. Pipeline Risk Assessment one pioneered by Muhlbauer

2. Pipeline Inline Inspection (Intelligent PIgging)

3.Corrosion Direct Assessment several methodologies drawn for standards by NACE (external corrosion, internal corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking)

4. Several emerging non destructive inspection technique including long range UT, multi array sensor and field signature method.

The emerging methodologies and technologies for pipeline should be taken as an opportunity to raise the level of the integrity of pipeline and raise safety for people and environment.

One Response to Palembang Pipeline Leaking – Aging Pipeline to Raise Risk Exposure

  1. […] years should be regarded as a momentum to develop more comprehensive pipeline safety regulation (Ref). A comprehensive pipeline safety regulation surely is one important legislative tool to ensure […]

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