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About 74 times every year, geohazards such as landslides, debris flows, rockfalls, earthquakes and flooding rupture pipelines around the world. About 16 of these failures occur every year in North America, which is equivalent to an average historical failure rate of about 0.02 failures per 1,000 km of pipeline per year or about two failures per year for every 100,000 km of operating pipe (IPC2016-64085).

Over the past few decades, pipeline failure rates by more frequent causes (third party impacts, corrosion, and material defects) have declined by a factor of two or more, while the frequency of geohazard-related failures has not changed significantly. BGC Engineering and our clients are working to remedy this. In 2015, we set a goal of reducing the global rate of pipeline failures caused by geohazards by more than 10% by 2025. To achieve this, we need to prevent about seven high consequence failures every year through the implementation of rigorous and systematic geohazard management programs.

Geohazard inventories for approximately 335,000 km of pipelines are currently hosted in the Cambio earth science cloud platform. When over 90% of identified geohazard sites on a pipeline have been inspected in the field by a geohazard specialist, and have been assigned a probability of failure, a recommended management action, and an action timing, we refer to that pipeline as having been “baselined”. Baselined pipes have advanced through the risk management process to the point that a reduction in uncertainty and risk can be realized. About 140,000 km of pipelines within the Cambio earth science cloud platform have been baselined.

Geohazard inventories for approximately 335,000 km of pipelines are currently hosted in Cambio.

BGC’s geohazard management program begins with the development of a detailed inventory of credible geohazards, followed by baseline characterization of the sites in the field. Our Cambio software is used for data collection and storage, site-specific annual probability of failure estimation, and tracking of recommendations for additional assessment, monitoring or mitigation.

Over the past three years, we have measured a five-fold reduction in failure rates on the baselined pipelines. Running 3-year average failure rates for baselined pipelines are currently 0.004 failures per 1,000 km per year compared to the industry average of 0.02.

This reduction has been achieved by helping pipeline operators focus their monitoring, maintenance and mitigation efforts at high probability of failure geohazard sites so that geohazard threats can be proactively addressed before failure occurs. We are incredibly encouraged by these results but recognize that ongoing diligence is required to sustain these trends.

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about our geohazard services and our Cambio geohazard management software, we look forward to hearing from you.

Sarah Newton, P.Eng.
Geological Engineer