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Pipeline “Dead Legs” – How to Identify & Analyse Their Risk – Learn More Here

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Alberta’s pipeline infrastructure is aging, and the risk of leaks associated with these segments increases correspondingly. As more and more wells are shut-in, some sections of pipeline are being left exposed to gathering system pressure due to not being able to be isolated for purposes of discontinuation or abandonment. “Dead legs” are sections of a pipeline system that do not see flow, yet are still exposed to process, which can lead to localized corrosion and eventually failure. This in turn can lead to considerable environmental damage and/or risk to public safety.

Two problems related to dead legs are identification and isolation. Solstice Engineering Ltd. has developed a revolutionary geospatial data analysis technology to identify dead legs as will be described in detail later. As for isolation, dead leg sections of pipeline have historically been difficult to isolate due to requiring gathering systems to be depressured which requires either a turnaround or a deferral of production and revenue. Recently, new technologies have been developed to safely isolate dead legs from pressurized systems and will hopefully soon provide a safe way to deal with these problematic aspects of our aging infrastructure and in turn reduce our current risk footprint.

In 2021, Solstice has taken on the initiative to enhance our data analytics solutions and to improve the scalability of our current offerings such as our industry leading Asset Retirement Obligation (ARO) estimates and Acquisition and Divestiture (A&D) evaluations. As part of improving the pipeline abandonment timing assumptions, a new data analytics approach was utilized to map pipelines to each other and to wells and facilities using geospatial proximity analysis. This has allowed Solstice to determine with a significant degree of accuracy Alberta’s current pipeline segment dead leg inventory and pipeline segments that appear to require work to be brought into compliance. Solstice has also developed geospatial based tools to help clients review each segment requiring work quickly and to verify whether each segment is indeed a dead leg and to also assess the current risk level.  This approach allows for building targeted pipeline abandonment/discontinuation programs that fit within the Alberta Area Based Closure (ABC) criteria.  It also assists companies with reducing their environmental exposure when it comes to dead legs.

Solstice Alberta pipeline segment data analytics highlights:

  • 319,507 total pipeline segments of which 244,019 are not yet abandoned
  • 7619 segments that need to be abandoned
  • 11,902 segments that need to be discontinued or abandoned
  • 3716 segments that may never have been installed
  • 1469 segments that are associated with recently shut-in wells and need to be discontinued or abandoned
  • 20,442 segments (or portions thereof) that may need to be transferred
  • 6268 to 7960 segments that appear to be dead legs and are an environmental risk
  • 4330 segments where other companies tie into the segment and should be collecting fees
  • 10,907 segments cross major water bodies and another 1255 segments come in close proximity (< 100 m)
  • 98,143 segments cross streams/canals/etc. and another 36,760 segments come in close proximity (< 100 m)
  • Approximately 33,500 spills have been reported associated with pipeline segments

Contact Solstice via contact information at the bottom of this page to receive your company’s specific pipeline data analytics breakdown and a sample of the Solstice Pipeline Compliance Analysis Report (see example below).

Figure 1 – Automated Dead Leg Example:  section of segment that heads north may be a dead leg if no isolation point exists where segment turns east. North portion of Operating segment is associated with an inactive well and that portion should be discontinued or abandoned, transferred to the well licensee, and the remaining in use portion split out as a new segment.

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Figure 2 – Detailed data analysis available for every segment in Alberta:

Figure 2

Figure 3 – Other Solstice generated information provided for each segment in Alberta:

Figure 3

Figure 4 – Screen Capture of Solstice Pipeline Compliance Analysis Tool:  Geospatial mapping (as shown in Figure 1) and data analytics provided for every pipeline, well, facility, water well, and spill/complaint to assist clients with quickly determining their inventories of pipelines that require compliance work and to pinpoint dead legs.

Figure 4

Contact Solstice via contact information at the bottom of this page to receive your company’s specific pipeline data analytics breakdown and a sample of the Solstice Pipeline Compliance Analysis Report (above).

About Solstice Engineering Ltd.

Solstice Engineering Ltd. provides petroleum software solutions, independent ARO estimates, acquisition and divestiture evaluations, LLR evaluations, and petroleum consulting services.

Solstice provides industry leading end of life data analytics to assist licensees and their service providers to quickly and accurately determine well abandonment candidates, cut and cap candidates, pipeline abandonment candidates, and to pinpoint reclamation candidates that have high annual carrying costs.  By identifying these opportunities, licensees will be able to optimize their end of life programs, efficiently reduce annual carrying costs, effectively reduce regulator deemed liabilities, and improve asset divestiture potential.  If all of industry takes this approach, the state of environmental cleanup in Alberta will improve dramatically providing a win-win for industry and taxpayers while reducing the current negative overtones regarding Alberta’s large inactive well populations.

For further information:

Phone:  403-462-2863

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