This paper describes a computational toolset designed to quantify and simulate potential spill volumes along a pipeline under a set of plausible operational and design strategies aimed at minimizing spill volume and impact time. The user specifies critical leak detection and spill response factors such as the leak orifice size, pipeline hydraulic design and operating envelope, leak detection system description, and critical logistical/design issues involving the time for initial response/call out, system isolation, and pipeline draindown and repair. The calculator determines the various impact times and spill volumes applicable to the system for a range of user specified imposed leak locations. This allows the operator to perform what-if scenarios as required to determine optimum set of design and operational parameters to minimize the spill impacts. A secondary tool that allows users to simulate and review the impact of a single leak via animated pipeline charts is also described.
Hazardous liquid spills can represent one of the most disruptive and costly events that many pipeline operators are ever likely to experience. Consequences to other parties both public and private can be significant, ranging from damage to property, watersheds, and environment to injury and death. Consequences of oil spills to the pipeline operator are typically financial in nature. These can extend from the simple costs of cleanup, which, for large spills, can be consequential, through the unpredictable results of court litigation, loss of community support and reduction in the value of the operator brand, to very significant revenue losses associated with the operator's "license to operate" the pipeline on a temporary or even permanent basis. In the limit where criminal liability is found, corporate officers can find themselves facing fines and jail time. Because of these significant impacts, it is in the interest of the operator to minimize the consequences of a spill. One part of this equation, of course, involves implementation of proper pipeline design, operating procedures and inspection measures oriented around minimizing the probability of having a leak in the first place. The other side involves being able to deal with the consequences of the spill once it has started. This paper addresses the latter part of the spill management process. Once a leak has started, it triggers a complex series of events or processes that, depending on the efficiency with which they occur, will define the total impact of the spill from both a time and spilled volume perspective. These include: Detection of the leak Pipeline shutdown Isolation of the affected segment Draindown of the segment Repair of the pipe Each of these critical activities in turn is dependent on potentially complex design and logistic constraints that differ for each portion of the spill response process. The activities may involve interplay between various subsystems involving, for example, pipeline hydraulics, signal detection, and human factors analysis. Thus, it is important to understand how design, operational and logistic constraints impact the spill quantifiers on both a global and local basis.