Ausenco addresses slurry pipeline failure rates

Having built over 80% of the world's long distance slurry pipelines, Ausenco is well placed to lead a discussion on preventative maintenance and integrity plans for these assets. Ausenco’s JP Fortin explains how in a recent interview with Mining Weekly.

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Consulting, engineering and project delivery firm Ausenco has organised the first, focused pipeline user’s symposium, to be held in Santiago, Chile, at the end of October, to discuss a framework to address the high mean failure rate of slurry pipelines.

Ausenco VP for pipeline consulting, JP Fortin, told Mining Weekly Online that Ausenco has identified that some 60% of the failure rates of slurry pipelines were associated with operation and could, therefore, be controlled.

“Gathering the statistical data around failure rates suggests that a lot of the failures are associated with operation, which refers to pipeline integrity, management and proactive maintenance practices, but also quality control of installation,” Fortin said.

“What we found is that 17% of the failure is associated with quality control, and 62% with operational consideration. We feel that both are controllable, not completely, but to some extent.

“And there is room for improvement in terms of preventive maintenance practices, but also operator training, as we see in other industries,” he added.

Fortin said Ausenco has now invited 25 of its key clients globally to attend the two-day symposium where the company will present its operating experience and findings on existing operations.

It will also work collaboratively with pipeline owners and operators to progress a framework that is more in line with the oil and gas pipeline industry, as well as the long-distance water pipeline industry.

“Due to the recent, or short history of slurry pipelines, the first 50 years of the industry were very much focused on proving the technical and commercial feasibility as a means of transportation, and it certainly has been addressed.

“In terms of addressing the more mature aspects of the transportation industry, like preventive maintenance and integrity plans, I think that is very much a hot topic at the moment, and that is one of the reasons we organised the symposium.”

Fortin said Ausenco was planning to take a leadership role in assisting the industry to improve on the failure rate of slurry pipelines, both from a design and operational point of view.

It was also hoping to reflect and adopt some of the methodologies that have proven successful in the more mature industries like oil and gas, and water transportation, to mitigate the risks to slurry pipelines in the mining industry, and to potentially lower the mean failure rates across those pipelines. 

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Go to the Mining Weekly article online here.