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Title: Statistical modelling of ECDA data for the prioritisation of defects on buried pipelines
Author: Bin Muhd Noor, Nik Nooruhafidzi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 4276
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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Buried pipelines are vulnerable to the threat of corrosion. Hence, they are normally coated with a protective coating to isolate the metal substrate from the surrounding environment with the addition of CP current being applied to the pipeline surface to halt any corrosion activity that might be taking place. With time, this barrier will deteriorate which could potentially lead to corrosion of the pipe. The External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) methodology was developed with the intention of upholding the structural integrity of pipelines. Above ground indirect inspection techniques such as the DCVG which is an essential part of an ECDA, is commonly used to determine coating defect locations and measure the defect's severity. This is followed by excavation of the identified location for further examination on the extent of pipeline damage. Any coating or corrosion defect found at this stage is repaired and remediated. The location of such excavations is determined by the measurements obtained from the DCVG examination in the form of %IR and subjective inputs from experts which bases their justification on the environment and the physical characteristics of the pipeline. Whilst this seems to be a straight forward process, the factors that comes into play which gave rise to the initial %IR is not fully understood. The lack of understanding with the additional subjective inputs from the assessors has led to unnecessary excavations being conducted which has put tremendous financial strain on pipeline operators. Additionally, the threat of undiscovered defects due to the erroneous nature of the current method has the potential to severely compromise the pipeline's safe continual operation. Accurately predicting the coating defect size (TCDA) and interpretation of the indication signal (%IR) from an ECDA is important for pipeline operators to promote safety while keeping operating cost at a minimum. Furthermore, with better estimates, the uncertainty from the DCVG indication is reduced and the decisions made on the locations of excavation is better informed. However, ensuring the accuracy of these estimates does not come without challenges. These challenges include (1) the need of proper methods for large data analysis from indirect assessment and (2) uncertainty about the probability distribution of quantities. Standard mean regression models e.g. the OLS, were used but fail to take the skewness of the distributions involved into account. The aim of this thesis is thus, to come up with statistical models to better predict TCDA and to interpret the %IR from the indirect assessment of an ECDA more precisely. The pipeline data used for the analyses is based on a recent ECDA project conducted by TWI Ltd. for the Middle Eastern Oil Company (MEOC). To address the challenges highlighted above, Quantile Regression (QR) was used to comprehensively characterise the underlying distribution of the dependent variable. This can be effective for example, when determining the different effect of contributing variables towards different sizes of TCDA (different quantiles). Another useful advantage is that the technique is robust to outliers due to its reliance on absolute errors. With the traditional mean regression, the effect of contributing variables towards other quantiles of the dependent variable is ignored. Furthermore, the OLS involves the squaring of errors which makes it less robust to outliers. Other forms of QR such as the Bayesian Quantile Regression (BQR) which has the advantage of supplementing future inspection projects with prior data and the Logistic Quantile Regression (LQR) which ensures the prediction of the dependent variable is within its specified bounds was applied to the MEOC dataset. The novelty of research lies in the approaches (methods) taken by the author in producing the models highlighted above. The summary of such novelty includes: * The use of non-linear Quantile Regression (QR) with interacting variables for TCDA prediction. * The application of a regularisation procedure (LASSO) for the generalisation of the TCDA prediction model.* The usage of the Bayesian Quantile Regression (BQR) technique to estimate the %IR and TCDA. * The use of Logistic Regression as a guideline towards the probability of excavation * And finally, the use of Logistic Quantile Regression (LQR) in ensuring the predicted values are within bounds for the prediction of the %IR and POPD. Novel findings from this thesis includes: * Some degree of relationship between the DCVG technique (%IR readings) and corrosion dimension. The results of the relationship between TCDA and POPD highlights a negative trend which further supports the idea that %IR has some relation to corrosion. * Based on the findings from Chapter 4, 5 and 6 suggests that corrosion activity rate is more prominent than the growth of TCDA at its median depth. It is therefore suggested that for this set of pipelines (those belonging to MEOC) repair of coating defects should be done before the coating defect has reached its median size. To the best of the Author's knowledge, the process of employing such approaches has never been applied before towards any ECDA data. The findings from this thesis also shed some light into the stochastic nature of the evolution of corrosion pits. This was not known before and is only made possible by the usage of the approaches highlighted above. The resulting models are also of novelty since no previous model has ever been developed based on the said methods. The contribution to knowledge from this research is therefore the greater understanding of relationship between variables stated above (TCDA, %IR and POPD). With this new knowledge, one has the potential to better prioritise location of excavation and better interpret DCVG indications. With the availability of ECDA data, it is also possible to predict the magnitude of corrosion activity by using the models developed in this thesis. Furthermore, the knowledge gained here has the potential to translate into cost saving measures for pipeline operators while ensuring safety is properly addressed.
Supervisor: Yu, K. ; Gan, T.-H. ; Bharadwaj, U. Sponsor: Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) ; Malaysian Government
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Quantile regression ; Bayesian quantile regression ; Logistic quantile regression ; Logistic regression ; Pipeline coating defect size estimation