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  Title Learning from pipeline failures
  Author(s) Professor Phil Hopkins  
  Abstract ALL ENGINEERING structures can fail, and oil and gas pipelines can and do fail. What can we learn from these failures, and could they have been avoided? Pipeline failures continue to occur, as pipelines present a complex mix of problems, in particular deterioration with time, changing conditions, external factors, and – as always – the ‘human’ factor. This paper emphasizes that learning from pipeline failures can help us reduce these failures, and hence we should never allow a pipeline failure to pass without a thorough and wide-ranging ‘lessons-learnt’ exercise that is both used and shared within the pipeline community.

Three major conclusions emerge from this paper: pipelines are a safe form of energy transportation; current trends indicate reducing pipeline failure rates; and good training (knowledge transfer), a solid skills base, and strong management are keys to preventing failures, but safety always starts with good design.

Of particular note from recent failures is the increase in theft, sabotage, and terrorist attacks. It will be difficult to reduce these failures by detection methods; therefore, prevention will be the best approach.


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