Consecutive in-line inspections of transmission pipelines enable a comparison between the inspection results to characterize corrosion growth. Despite the high levels of in-line inspection tool accuracy and detection capabilities, corrosion defects with low calculated burst capacities may be detected on a subsequent inspection that were not reported in a previous inspection. These newly reported defects can pose a substantial challenge as the apparent growth rates between inspections of these defects can potentially drive unnecessary repair digs. This paper characterizes the contributing factors that can explain these phenomena, including:
• Typical corrosion growth rates and their associated statistical frequency
• The diminishing detection capability of inspection tools for smaller defects
• The inspection tool minimum reporting threshold
• The measurement accuracy of inspection tools.
A statistical analysis was developed to quantify this interacting set of factors using Monte Carlo simulations that work retrospectively, covering a range of observed measured defect depths and then simulating the processes that could lead to newly reported defects being un-matched in a previous inspection.
This analysis can be used to quantify the likelihood that a defect of a specific measured size would have been unreported in an earlier inspection due only to the performance characteristics of the inspection tool, and not as a result of defect growth that initiated since the time of the previous inspection. A set of case studies covering a range of pipeline inspection intervals ranging from 2 to 10 years are presented to demonstrate how this approach can be used to quantify appropriate growth rates that may be applied to these un-matched defects when assessing the remaining life or predicted probability of failure.