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Pipeline Design for Mechanical Damage
The leading cause of pipeline failures in North America and Europe is mechanical damage caused by third-party excavation. Current pipeline design standards have taken into account the pipeline’s ability to resist internal pressure, but current standards do not address mechanical damage such as that caused by excavation. A design method that accounts for the likelihood and the consequences of mechanical damage does not currently exist.
A method to check the design of pipelines for mechanical damage was developed using valid models from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the European Gas Pipeline Incident Data Group (EGIG). The models suggest that the risk of pipeline damage from a mechanical excavation is lowest for thick-walled pipelines and that moderate increases in wall thickness (for Class 3 or 4 areas) can help achieve adequate safety for thin-walled pipelines.