APIA scholarship recipients benefit from JTM experience

The Joint Technical Meeting (JTM) is a meeting of pipeline industry associations and experts from all over the world, with participants hailing from APIA, the European Pipelines Research Group (EPRG) and the North American-based Pipeline Research
Council International (PRCI). The 19th Biennial JTM included approximately 36 research papers that represent the latest and best research being done throughout the industry, as well as workshops and social events.

Each of the APIA scholarship recipients had received a nomination from their respective companies and then submitted a short biography and application for consideration by the APIA committee. The six successful scholarship recipients were Elizabeth Voss and Hassan Cheema from APA Group, Mark Rathbone and James Wu from Jemena, Awais Ashraf from the McConnell Dowell and Consolidated Contracting Company joint venture and Tane Bowels from GPA Engineering.

Pre-JTM workshop

For the select group lucky enough to have checked into the Sheraton hotel on the Sunday morning, a series of presentations introducing automated gas metal arc welding and ultrasonic testing (UT) implementation were offered up.

The workshop included an overview of Australian pipeline welding and the industry’s proficiency with shielded metal arc welding, or “˜stick welding’. The group was then given an insight into the North American and European experiences, from the introduction of mechanised processes through to the present where experienced pipeline operators have developed robust procedures and methods.

“Discussions throughout the workshop proved to be very interesting, where the topic being tabled was whether international standards around automated UT and mechanised welding were currently suitable,” said Mr Rathbone.

“There was a reasonably strong response from the group that the standards are not suitable. However, there was some resistance to tightening these as onerous controls could hinder further technological advances.”

Mechanical damage

Coming from a construction background, Mr Ashraf knows that a lot of effort is spent on controlling mechanical damage during the construction of a pipeline.

“Although much research has been carried out to understand the incidences, there is a need for further knowledge, as pointed out in the papers presented during the mechanical damage session,” said Mr Ashraf.

“Some future objectives include correlation between material toughness and Charpy energy, and improvement of model predicting capabilities. There is work being carried out by the Tripartite in order to streamline the research and avoid duplication of works.”

A particular paper that attracted Mr Ashaf’s attention was titled “˜The Effect of Re-rounding on Mechanical Damage Severity’.

“Although such analyses have been established in the past, not much attention, if any, was given to the effects of cracking that can form in the wake of the damage implement,” said Mr Ashaf.

“It was interesting for me because I have been involved in running in-line inspection tools to locate and repair such features.”

Welding and inspection

Mr Rathbone said he found the paper titled “˜Welding of Small Diameter Pipelines in Australia’ to be a real eye-opener to the impact a few changes to a welding procedure can have on the economics of pipeline construction.

“What resonated with the audience was that, from our typical welding procedures, relatively small changes do affect production rates and costs significantly,” said Mr Rathbone.

In addition, Mr Rathbone said Yong-Yi Wang presented an interesting paper on girth weld high-low misalignment.

“Whilst the aim of the paper was to develop a one-size-fits-all methodology to assess acceptability, it was good to see that despite this being proved impracticable, the researchers were able to provide guidelines for typical construction jointing scenarios,” he said.

A paper by John O’Brian discussed the PRCI’s establishment of the NDE Centre, in the United States for technology development for the pipeline industry. The facility is located in Houston, Texas, and collects and maintains samples of real world defects cut out from operational pipelines. This repository has assisted technological development in the industry by providing real defects to assist with research and calibrations.

Fracture control

There were number of interesting papers presented on the topic of fracture control at the JTM. Mr Cheema said he found the 313344.jpg313348.jpg paper presented by Dr Guillaume Michal, titled “˜A Coupled Model to Simulate Fracture Propagation in a Gas Pipeline’ particularly stimulating. In this study, local damage models of brittle and ductile fracture were integrated to model the Charpy V-notch test, the drop weight tear test and the West Jefferson test using the finite element computation method.

Simulations of brittle and ductile fracture were carried out using a coupled model of the West Jefferson test developed from other experimental simulations. A characteristic length of the flaps behind the crack tip was identified as sufficient to model the steady propagation of brittle fracture.


The paper titled “˜Develop a New Unique AC Corrosion CP Mitigation Criterion’ was a very interesting one for Mr Wu. This presentation identified the relationships between pipeline cathodic protection potential and the alternating current interference which may result in corrosion. According to Mr Wu, it provided good guidelines to evaluate the risk of AC corrosion for pipeline operators and asset owners where often standards do not prescribe.

Another paper, titled “˜Influence of Corrosion in the Vicinity of Girth Welds on Structural Integrity’, provided evaluation factors to be considered during the pipeline integrity assessment process.

“For most new pipeline engineers, standards and training only focus on assessment of corrosion on pipelines and not on the effects of corrosion at the weld,” said Mr Wu.

“Importantly, when factors such as weld misalignment and weld strength are incorporated in assessment, it can strongly influence the decisions of pipeline operators.”

Ground movement

The first paper in the ground movement session was by Dr Charles Fernandez, titled “˜Methodological Issues for Assessing Pipeline Subjected to Unexpected Slow Ground Movements’. It stated that although it is possible to monitor strain levels on a pipeline known to be prone to ground movements, it is very difficult to assess stress/strain levels on an existing pipeline subjected to an unexpected ground movement. A good assessment methodology can eliminate expensive less informed decisions.

Gillian Robert presented on the use of satellite radar sensing data to measure ground movement, which can lead to pipeline deformation and strain. The paper had the goal of providing three-dimensional motion analysis of ground movement along the pipeline easement to assist in identifying where pipe stress may be accumulating.

The paper presented by Dr Hossein Karbasian addressed a full-scale pipe bending device in operation at the research company Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung in Germany. The LimitState analyser enables experimental study of the strain-based pipeline behaviour subjected to internal pressure, axial and bending load.

Safety and design

After the largely technical papers, it was a paper by Jan Hayes from the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (with APIA) that made Mr Bowels think beyond physical barriers that are put in place for safety and instead consider the way in which safety issues are identified and considered at the design stage.

“I found an important note to take away from the presentation was to constantly remind myself to ask “˜How safe is the design and what could potentially go wrong?’ during a task,” said Mr Bowels.

In addition to Ms Hayes’ paper, Peter Tuft presented a paper titled “˜Comparing International Pipeline Failure Rates’.

“I found it interesting to see that Australia’s failure rates were low compared to overseas,” said Mr Bowels.

“I could not help but think that the approach to safety here in Australia must be playing a role in reducing failure rates. This gives me confidence that our industry colleagues are passing on a good attitude towards pipeline safety and design, but, of course, one must never be complacent.”

CO2 pipelines

Although CO2 has been safely used in industry for years, there is a concern regarding large quantities involved in capture and storage pipelines. The need to develop know-how on CO2 transportation in large inventory was addressed in the paper by EPRG, titled “˜Anthropogenic CO2 Transportation, the European Response’.

“A paper by Philip Venton, speaker for the APIA helped me understand the work being carried out to predict atmospheric dispersion behaviour of CO2 resulting from pipeline failure,” said Mr Ashraf.

“Even though computational fluid dynamics model simulation results were in agreement with experimental data, more research is needed to obtain comprehensive parameters. This will help establish exclusion zones from release sites and assist in determining the route of CO2 pipelines.

“I am quite interested to see development in this field and to understand any difference to existing guidelines,” he said.


According to Mr Bowels, the paper titled “˜Insights Gained through the Development of a Roadmap for Composite Repair Systems’ related well to his current engineering design position as problems such as pipeline repair can always occur.

The presentation related to the repair of wall loss on a steel pipeline with a composite material. The paper highlighted the boundary between known high confidence applications of composite repair systems and applications where additional research is required. This research is currently being undertaken by the PRCI to improve the industry knowledge of composite repair products. 304175.jpg

“It was interesting to see the willingness for composite repair companies to assist the industry to improve its knowledge, whichis a major benefit to the research,” said Mr Bowels.

“I was also impressed with the long-term approach to the composite repair system testing, as proven long-term performance of these systems used is relatively unknown.”

Social events

The objective for many of the scholarship holders attending the JTM was to gain and absorb as much knowledge and information as possible in regard to the ever-changing face of the industry. The geographical spread of the presenters and delegates enables attendees to gain invaluable insights on research approaches and techniques employed by industry counterparts abroad.

“During the event it is very important to interact with other attendees. You never know how a simple conversation can provide a whole different perspective,” said Mr Wu.

“As a scholarship winner, I could not stress enough how important networking is and this was thoroughly explained when we first met at the introductory drinks, held at the Sheraton hotel on Sunday night.

“Attending an event such as this for the first time can be very daunting, so the opening event at the Sydney Opera House provided the perfect social scenario for us to engage in introductions and light-hearted conversations with good food, wine and a string quartet. At the conclusion of the night, we all had the opportunity to establish connections that helped make the rest of the week even more enjoyable.

“On our trip to the Taronga Zoo for dinner on Wednesday night, it was amazing how many of the attendees we still hadn’t had the opportunity to meet and chat to. I had the opportunity to meet Stijn Hertelé from Belgium on the ferry, who went on to win the best JTM Paper. There were many interesting discussions, both work and non-work related, where I learned more about Stijn professionally and about Belgium as well.

“The evening was spent meeting and getting to know participants from all corners of the world over a delightful, locally-sourced dinner, more Australian wine and good entertainment,” said Mr Wu.

Post-JTM tour

On Friday, the University of Wollongong played host to the remaining JTM attendees with a tour of their facilities and a presentation of the university’s contributions to technical research in the pipeline industry. According to Mr Rathbone, tour highlights included the latest research into temperature measurement during hydrostatic testing and a walk-through of the materials engineering labs. A select few interested attendees also listened to an invaluable talk on CO2 pipelines that, by coincidence, was being presented at the same time as the JTM tour.

On completion of the tour, newly acquainted contacts, colleagues and friends said their farewells and went their separate ways to disseminate their new-found knowledge and experience within their businesses and the pipeline industry.

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