Preventing accidents when clearing shore pipelines: Gard

Robert Skaare, Gard Senior Claims Adviser, based in Arendal, Norway, has said that accidents related to shore pipeline clearing operations had been on the rise, noting that “over-pressurization or overfilling of tanks can cause physical damage, pollution and even personal injuries”.

Skaare said that, Over the last few months, Gard had seen a marked increase in incidents related to the clearing of shore pipelines. The causes varied: Gard had noted several examples of over-pressurization of tanks causing physical damage, and overfilling of tanks causing spillage, pollution and personal injuries. Skaare said that there had also been several cases of “near misses” over the past few years.

The procedures used for clearing shore pipelines would depend on the facilities available at each terminal and the type of cargo loaded. Usually, they involve either line blowing or pigging. Both methods involve transferring large amounts of liquid or gas through the pipelines. Skaare said that ,due to the sheer volume being transferred, it was extremely important that this flow is controlled at the manifold with the manifold valve. Good communication during the entire operation was key to preventing incidents.

Most accidents leading to structural damage to vessel tanks were caused either by a too-high volume of gas being supplied, or too much cargo being pushed into the tank, or the speed of inflow being too high.

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