Both Minister Hinchliffe and Mr Matheson welcomed the release of the Code of Practice and praised its comprehensive nature. The Code demonstrates to the regulators, and to the general public, that the CSG industry is very serious about safety. It helps the regulators do their job effectively by providing a consistent measure to assess against, that has been accepted by all of industry, and which covers the design, installation, testing, operation and even abandonment of the estimated 20,000 km of PE pipelines to be installed as part of the major CSG projects planned and currently underway.
As well as the obvious benefit of increasing safety, there are several additional benefits provided by the new Code of Practice that increase efficiency. The benefits stem from the Code being specifically prepared for the CSG industry, which is unique in a number of ways. Previously, gathering networks were based on a variety of codes prepared for the water industry and the residential gas distribution industry. There was previously some ambiguity regarding the appropriate standard to use, which has resulted in inconsistent design and installation practices. These inconsistencies have sometimes resulted in over-design, causing unnecessary expense, but also sometimes in under-design, increasing the potential for a safety or security of supply issue. The new Code of Practice incorporates risk assessment to take into account all known and envisaged threats to the integrity of the pipelines, resulting in a safer and
The very large quantity of PE pipelines to be installed has driven industry to invest in technology to increase efficiency and safety. Importantly, the Code of Practice addresses new technologies and incorporates the latest research and industry developments. These technologies include ploughing in the pipelines instead of the traditional trench and lay construction. Ploughing has been used for a long time but the technology advances have increased the diameter of PE that can be ploughed to 450 mm, permitted multiple pipes/cables to be installed together and found ways to overcome some of the less friendly soil types encountered in the CSG areas.
The Code of Practice covers new butt welding techniques to reduce the time for each weld to be undertaken and cooled sufficiently. Some techniques are proprietary in nature, but they are essentially based on reducing the heat applied to each surface and increasing the force in which they are pushed together. Research is ongoing into coiling larger diameter PE pipe to reduce the number of welds required, and companies are also looking at producing the PE pipe locally to the Surat CSG fields. Obviously the Code of Practice will be regularly updated to keep pace with industry and incorporate further comments as it is put into practice.
Needless to say, on behalf of APIA, I am very proud of the new Code of Practice. I certainly assisted in the process, which was a rewarding experience, but I cannot take all the credit. The Code was written by key industry personnel who dedicated much of their personal time and energy to the project. APIA provided the organisation and collating of the Code, and was greatly assisted by contributions from the main companies involved in CSG. There were many individuals who played significant roles in the preparation of the Code, but I would like to particularly thank Hugh Luckhurst-Smith as Chair of the committee, John Fleming as editor and Mark Heathcote representing the Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia.