Pipeline Technology Conference in Berlin: Stella Cunha’s Key Takeaways

Stella Cunha is a YPAC Outreach Lead and a Pipeline Engineer at Wood PLC

YPAC is part of a global network of young pipeline professional associations under the YPI (Young Pipeliners International) banner.  Member groups include YPP USA, YPP-Brazil, Mexico-YPP, YPP Europe, and YPP-Nigeria.

As part of YPAC’s continued commitment to creating a global network of pipeline leaders, Stella Cunha, YPAC Outreach Lead, attended the Pipeline Technology Conference (PTC) in Berlin.

Danny Molyneux (YPPE), Stella Cunha (YPAC), Marguerite Forde (YPPE), Tran Mah-Paulson (YPAC Advisor), and Bruno Amorim (YPP-Brazil) attended as YPI representatives

“I had an amazing experience attending PTC Berlin and meeting some of the YPI members there. It was a great opportunity to connect with other young professionals from all around the world and also network with individuals from different companies and understand what is happening in the pipeline business in Europe.”

The keynote speaker Phil Hopkins did a very interesting presentation on the cause of failures and how lessons learned from other industry sectors can be applied to the pipeline industry, and how we can change the perspective from “failure cause” to “root cause”. The pipeline industry does a very good job on implementing and using integrity management systems to prevent failures but more can be done by focusing on the root cause of failures, which according to his paper are safety culture, staff competence, and human errors. Phil Hopkins also presented a paper on the importance of competence and how beneficial it can be to set “competence standards” and provide a common definition with its minimum requirements and use it to assess the competence of an individual.

Phil Hopkins presents about Engineering Failures

One panel to highlight was on the long-term vision for a climate neutral economy in Europe by 2050. Barbara Jinks, GIF (Gas Infrastructure Europe) gave a very interesting talk about the role of pipelines in the de-carbonization process in EU and how the gas infrastructure plays an increasingly important role in this scenario. According to her, de-carbonization cannot be done affordably without pipelines. They will continue to be a reliable, clean and affordable way to transport renewable and decarbonized energy such as synthetic CH4 and hydrogen.

The final panel was about illegal tapping and the current challenges to control and reduce occurrences. Many technologies can be used to detect those occurrences but the root causes of the problem run beyond technological approaches. In countries like Nigeria and Brazil, social issues like inequality and poverty play a very important role in the causes of illegal taping, and the focus should be prevention of the problem. Companies are working towards building stronger relationships with the communities and showing the risks of accidents when illegal tapping a pipeline. Peter Davis also pointed that in UK there are no severe laws to punish illegal taping, although the consequences can be quite serious as an accident and injuries, and it costs millions to repair an illegal tap. The general conclusion is that countries should work together to share knowledge and best practices to reduce and control this problem.

Illegal Tapping Panel