The United Kingdom Onshore Pipeline Operators Association (UKOPA) was formed by UK pipeline operators to provide a common forum for representing operators interests in the safe management of pipelines. This includes providing historical failure statistics for use in pipeline quantitative risk assessment and UKOPA maintain a database to record this data.

The UKOPA database holds data on product loss failures of UK major accident hazard pipelines from 1962 onwards and currently has a total length of 21,845 km of pipelines reporting. Overall exposure from 1952 to 2016 is 927,351 km years of operating experience with a total of 197 product loss incidents since 1962. The low number of failures means that the historical failure rate for pipelines of some specific diameters, wall thicknesses and material grades is zero or statistically insignificant. It is unreasonable to assume that the failure rate for these pipelines is actually zero.

In addition to product loss incidents, the UKOPA database contains extensive data on measured part wall damage that did not cause product loss, unlike the European Gas Incident data Group (EGIG) database, which also includes the UK gas transmission pipeline product loss data. The data on damage to pipelines caused by external interference can be assessed to derive statistical distribution parameters describing the expected gouge and dent dimensions resulting from an incident. Overall external interference incident rates for different class locations can also be determined. These distributions and incident rates can be used in structural reliability based techniques to predict the failure frequency due to external interference for a given set of pipeline parameters.

The current distributions of external interference damage were derived from data up to 2009 and presented as Weibull distributions for gouge depth, gouge length and dent depth. Analysis undertaken for the COOLTRANS CO2 pipeline project, undertaken by National Grid in the UK, has identified several improvements to the recommended UKOPA approach to external interference failure frequency prediction. This paper summarises those improvements and presents updated damage distribution parameters from data up to 2016.

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