ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands – 1 May 2012 – Independent Risk Management Systems B.V. (IRM Systems), an independent supplier of emergency pipeline repair systems (EPRS) and pipeline repair services, announced that pipeline operator BBL Company awarded the company a contract to produce a Concept Proposal that will provide a thorough assessment of the organisation’s current pipeline repair contingency plans and preparedness.
BBL Company operates the BBL pipeline, which can provide the UK with approximately l5% of its total natural gas supply. The 36-inch export line transmits gas from Balgzand, near Den Helder, in The Netherlands to Bacton Gas Terminal on the coast of Norfolk, England. The system extends 235 kilometres (146 mi), 230 kilometres (140 mi) of which is offshore. The system is of strategic importance for the supply of gas to the UK.
IRM Systems is supplying BBL with advice as to whether the pipeline operator would benefit from a range of both established and emerging repair methods. The company will also provide guidance on the best-in-class repair technologies available and the companies that provide them. Separate sections of the Concept Proposal will be dedicated to optimising readiness; where appropriate by locating EPRS hardware and tooling close to the asset. The primary objective of an EPRS is to facilitate the earliest possible return to operations.
Central to the study is a cost-benefit analysis that addresses the possibility of adopting an enhanced or – in some cases – a new EPRS. By doing so, decisions as to how best to move forward will be based on how investing in an EPRS will reduce downtime, costs and lost production in the event of an emergency repair. This analysis is based upon existing capabilities, possible improvements and, above all, the translation of all elements associated with emergency pipeline repair into an integrated system that is ready for use and easy to maintain.
Growing trend: pipeline operators seek independent advice
BBL Company’s decision to retain IRM Systems reflects a growing trend among pipeline operators to retain independent guidance as to which a specific pipeline repair system best meets the pipeline and context criteria of the operator, and is as effective – and cost-effective – as it can be.
“BBL Company seeks to continually improve its operations in every way. Our aim is to operate and maintain the BBL pipeline to the highest operational and safety standards in the industry, while achieving that aim in a cost-effective manner,” said Hans Boersma, Offshore Asset Manager for BBL Company. “Being fully prepared for emergency repairs under any circumstance is one of those subjects that requires continuous attention. In addition to the technical aspects, being organized is critical to acting decisively in emergency situations,” he added.
To make certain that they are using the best methods and technologies available, BBL Company stresses the importance of objective advice. “Whether it’s surface repair, connectors, pressure isolation methods or reliable suppliers of hot tapping services, it is important that they are recommended because they will be the most cost-effective and deliver the greatest benefit for our specific needs,” said Boersma. “Because IRM Systems is an independent consultancy with no ties to any supplier, we are confident that their recommendations will be objective, based on their experience and knowledge,” he added.
The Concept Proposal is considered Phase 1 of IRM Systems’ overall programme of EPRS consultancy services. Should BBL opt to proceed to Phase 2, IRM Systems will produce a customised plan that will detail and optimise the selected repair scenarios. The repair scenarios feature all details associated with, for example, front-end engineering and design, and commercial and vendor requirements that are central components of an EPRS.
EPRS planning on the move in Europe, Africa & Asia Pacific
The contract is one of several recent contracts awarded to IRM Systems, which is dedicated to helping pipeline operators mitigate risks associated with critical pipeline networks. The Netherlands-based consultancy began operating in mid-2011, and is already providing valuable guidance to pipeline operators about how best to implement an EPRS for pipeline networks in West Africa and Asia Pacific. These systems will help operators to facilitate a rapid and successful response to a number of potential emergency scenarios that are unique to their individual pipeline networks.