Factors that are considered in the construction of a crude oil pipeline.

Photocredit:pipeline construction

There are many factors that are put to consideration when considering to put up a pipeline.

These include:

1. Route (distance, pipeline length)
2. Topography (hills, valleys, inclines, plains)
3. Temperature ( warm or cold temperature regions, seasonal variations in temperature and climate)
4. Expansion
5. Environmental impact (environment setting, urban or countryside, offshore or onshore, conservation reserves or protected ecosystems)
6. Metering and allocation (if shared between two or more operators)
7. Fluid being transported (oil or gas or mixture)

These considerations then feed in to the pipeline design whose considerations include:

1. Volume flow rate
2. Material choice for pipeline
3. Temperature and pressure
4. Tie-ins and land falls
5. Thermal expansion or shrinkage of pipeline
6. Safety
7. Corrosion (due to sulphur, solids, or presence of other corrosive agents)
8. Pipeline protection and maintenance

The steps undertaken before pipeline construction include;

1. Pipeline planning
2. Route selection
3. Acquisition of requisite Permits and Right of way
4. Data collection on soil, which include soil testing, soil boring etc.
5. Pipeline design (Front End Engineering and Design – FEED)

And finally pipeline construction is done after the above mentioned steps are done. However, most of the steps can be done alongside one another however there are some which are pre-requisites to other steps and so can only be done after the pre-requisite step is completed.

As Kenya and its East African counterparts gear up for the construction of their crude oil pipelines, they people involved in the design process are asking themselves the following questions.

· What are the environmentally sensitive areas nearby?
· What are the seasonal variations in temperature and climate?
· Is it an urban or rural setting? And are there existing elements or facilities nearby that could pose a public safety risk?
· Which communities are located nearby and what are their concerns with regard to the construction of the pipeline?
· Is there a need to relocate the individuals living nearby?
· Is the land public land or individually owned? If so how shall it be acquired? is there a need for compensation?
· What are the permits required and special considerations?
· Who has the ROW? (Right of Way)
· What is the infrastructure in place?
· To what extent does the terrain facilitate ease of construction?

Once feasible solutions are found for the above mentioned questions, then shall it be possible to move to the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) and Engineering,Procurement and Construction (EPC) stages.

The pipeline economics plays a major role at each stage including pipeline planning, route selection, design and construction.

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