Changes to GoM Pipeline Practices After Hurricane?

Houston: Hurricane Ivan last autumn led to damaged oil infrastructure remaining both above and below sea level. DNV will now carry out a study to find out what happened during that hurricane and how to be better prepared in the future to reduce hurricane damage in the Gulf of Mexico. By the end of this year, DNV will submit recommendations to the authorities that identify best practices and potential changes to codes in order to better protect pipelines during subsequent major hurricanes.

A lot of questions are to be asked and investigations have to be carried out for MMS. Among other factors, DNV will be using its well-respected global reputation and pipeline code to compare the Gulf of Mexico engineering practice for pipelines with the practices in other parts of the world. The scope involves:

  • Investigating the GoM pipeline infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Ivan. The identification and management of root causes of key areas of damage will be an area of focus.
  • Investigating how operators deal with GoM hurricanes and what are the best early warning, emergency response, shutdown and start-up practices.
  • Investigating the current design and installation practices for GoM pipelines and comparing these with those applicable in other areas of the world.
  • Investigating both new and proven techniques and technologies which may help to mitigate pipeline damage.

As a result of the investigations and a state-of-the-art review of current practices and issues, DNV will recommend possible changes that can potentially improve the level of safety and reduce the possibility of a catastrophic failure in the future.

The review will include an expanded appraisal of the historical performance and critical issues for consideration. This will include an evaluation of the effects of Ivan and aspects that could increase or decrease integrity, ranging from possible standard changes to the evolution of operations.

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan, a full category-4 storm, moved through the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) producing extreme winds and large waves that exceeded or matched the 100-year design criteria of the facilities in its path.

Of the 4,000 offshore oil and gas facilities and some 50,000 kilometers of pipeline in federal GoM waters, approximately 150 facilities and 15,000 kilometers of pipeline were in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan. The oil and gas industry submitted numerous damage reports to MMS.

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