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Proceedings of the 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference IPC2012 September 24-28, 2012, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

IPC2012-90154
GEOTECHNICAL MANAGEMENT IN OCP PIPELINE
Gualberto Chiriboga Salguero Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados (OCP) Quito, Ecuador

ABSTRACT Landslides are one of the main threats in maintaining pipeline integrity and depend directly on natural geological and geotechnical conditions. External factors such as weather, rainfall, and others, can trigger land movements and displace the pipeline. The Ecuadorian OCP (Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline) is a buried pipeline going in an East to West direction, crossing 485 kilometers of the Ecuadorian territory. It starts in the Amazon Region (approximately 300 meters above sea level), and then climbs the Andes Mountains (4060 meters above sea level in its tallest portion), to then descend to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The OCP pipeline crosses many regions with varying climates, varying rainfall patterns, variable morphologies, diversity of soils, and areas affected by tectonic faults, among others. In order to prevent pipeline failures, OCP Ecuador has instituted programs to perform preventive and corrective actions in order to handle the following geological concerns: Intervention of a specialized geotechnical team to identify and monitor critical points along the pipeline route. This team identifies unstable sites based on the observations of cracks, land movements, or other visual deformations of the pipeline route and its surroundings. Upkeep of the preventive program. Execution of third-level studies required to understand specific unstable zones in detail: nature of the subsoil, underground water level, geo-mechanic characteristics, stability factor, and stabilization works. Geotechnical instrumentation used: inclinometers to search the spread of movement, shifting direction, speed, (landslide location); strain gauges for preventive control of pipeline strain, alert levels,

efficiency of stabilization works; and topographic surveys to monitor superficial movements. Data processing and mapping on GIS Software. Annual over-flights to detect massive landslides. Internal inspectors (online-ILI) providing a wide range of information: geometry measurements, curvature monitoring, pipeline displacement, etc. In addition, it allows detection of probable zones depicting soil movement.

The purpose of this technical paper is to present the methodology applied by OCP Ecuador to prevent failure of the pipeline along its route. INTRODUCTION One of the basic problems in ascertaining the integrity of the pipeline is around its geological path, which directly influences the stability of the terrain where the pipeline is placed. The OCP (Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline) in Ecuador is 485 kilometers in length, crossing Ecuador from East to West, rising from an altitude of 300 m.a.s.l. in the Amazon region located on the eastern flank of the Andes Mountain Range, at an altitude of 4060 m.a.s.l. at its highest point, and then descends along the western flank of the Andes until reaching the Ecuadorian coast with onshore lines, and has two single buoys located in the Pacific Ocean. The pipeline passes through regions presenting variable climates, high precipitation, changing morphology, diversity of soils, tectonically active areas, etc., which create a favorable scenario for the generation of unstable areas of the most varied types where it has been necessary to provide special geotechnical solutions for every problem. The OCP crosses a variety of geological and morphological structures typical of the dynamic geology present in Ecuador, marked by strong earthquakes and volcanic episodes.

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The tectonic aspect is directly linked to the subduction of the Nazca Oceanic Plate lying beneath the continental plate of the South American continent. The collision of these two plates caused the rise of the Ecuadorian Andes and the melting of the mantle lying beneath the continent. Ecuador is comprised of 3 regions with varying geological and morphological characteristics: The Coastal region, which is a sedimentary basin consisting of an arc oceanic basement. The Highlands region, influenced by the andean belt, divided into two geologically distinct mountain ranges: the Real Andean Belt to the East, and the Andean Western Belt to the West. The latter has equal geological basement rocks as in the coastal region, overlapped by volcanic arc formations belonging to the Oligocene Age, and the Real Andean Belt has a basement age consisting of Pre-Cretaceous metamorphic formations. The Eastern Region is defined as the retro-arc basin of the Andes flanked in the East by Guyana Precambrian rocks, and to the West by the Real Andean Belt. These rocks are covered by marine and continental sedimentary formations of the Pre-Eocene, on which lie sedimentary formations superimposed behind the Post-Oligocene arc. Figure 1 depicts the subduction process of the Nazca Oceanic Plate beneath the continental South American plate, and explains how the three regions in Ecuador were formed.

SEISMIC RISK The OCP pipeline crosses the North of the country in an East to West direction covering different tectonic environments. The OCP pipeline is affected by various geological fault systems shown in Appendix 1, as described below: The dextral strike slip fault system, associated with movements to the Northeast of the Northwestern Andean block, in the context of plate interactions. The system of reverse faults of the eastern Andean front, which absorbs the compressive deformation of the Northern E-W Andean Block with respect to South America. The North-South reverse faults of the Inter-Andean and Southern intra-montane basins, which are seen as the result of the interaction of older systems, and active faults, which are related to the recovery of old discontinuities separating the great rock units of Ecuador. Results indicate that virtually the entire route of the Pipeline is subject to impacts by potential earthquakes in many cases of great magnitude [1]. There are seismic acceleration logs in the Eastern Region going from 0.26 to 0.40g; in the Andean region, from 0.30 to 0.43g; and in the coastal region, between 0.29 to 0.58g. In the latter region is where the strongest recorded quake occurred in the country's history and is regarded as one of the largest in world history (Ms = 8.7 in 1906) [2]. VOLCANIC RISK The OCP can be affected by various types of volcanic phenomena: lahars, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, ash, and avalanches stemming from the following volcanoes: Reventador, Cayambe, Antisana, Cotacachi, Chacana, Cotopaxi, Atacazo, Quilotoa, Guagua Pichincha, Pululahua Soche, and Sumaco. Appendix 2 shows the geographical distribution of volcanoes in the area of influence of the OCP. Of these, the Reventador Volcano presents an on-going risk for potential damage. As a matter of fact, during the construction phase, a lahar destroyed a section of pipeline at the Reventador River crossing, thus causing the interment of the pipeline at a greater depth. [1] UNSTABLE AREAS Unstable areas are defined by the interaction of several parameters: geological, geomorphological, hydro-geological, and geotechnical features, which represent geo-technic sensitive indicators.

FIGURE 1: DEPICTS THE SUBDUCTION PROCESS OF THE NAZCA OCEANIC PLATE BENEATH THE CONTINENTAL S OUTH AMERICAN PLATE

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Accordingly, the OCP crosses three distinct areas of geotechnical quality, going from good to poor, as described below: Good geotechnical quality: characterized by bedrock comprised of volcanic and sedimentary rocks, moderate erosion, semi permeable to permeable areas, stable areas, and good bearing soil capacity. Moderate geotechnical quality: dominant morphology from hillside up-mountain; steep to very steep slopes, potentially unstable areas, high run-off, and drainage; medium to low-permeability substrates, unstable natural slopes, moderately crossing steep slopes, various types of soil, and low-density and/or altered to highly-altered rocks. Poor geotechnical quality: morphology of mountains with very steep slopes, very strong weathering, and erosion. The fracturing of the bedrock is high, very humid, and slope stability is very critical, with low bearing capacity. The varying distributions regarding geotechnical quality alongside the pipeline are: good geotechnical quality is 56%; moderate geotechnical quality is 36%; and poor geotechnical quality is 8%. Therefore, the OCP needs to concentrate its efforts in about 44% of the pipeline where most geological problems persist CONTROL OF THE RIGHT OF WAY ( ROW ) OCP is permanently controlling the ROW through visual inspections at variable time intervals, in keeping with impacts concerning instability at each area in order to achieve the following objectives: Preserving the integrity of the pipeline through proper and timely maintenance of the ROW, maintenance of major river crossings, and air steps. Visual inspection of naturally-occurring damages. Solving interference and potential third-party damages. Reporting activities, events, conflicts, or potential damages to the Pipeline. Identifying potential oil leaks.

Based on experience accrued during 8 years of operations, the OCP has established three different categories or classes of sections in the ROW concerning geological complexity and sensitivity around third-party actions. In accordance with international standards of ROW inspection, the OCP has implemented an appropriate frequency for routine inspections, along with periodic evaluations of engineering and maintenance programs for the ROW. Categorization of sections of the pipelines ROW consider aspects such as active landslides, historic landslides, soil morphology, soil characteristics, drainage patterns, accessibility, vegetative cover, work-implemented stabilization, weather conditions, natural history, among others, which have had a) a significant impact on the area, b) interaction with existing infrastructure, and/or c) third-party activities. Based on the above, the ROW has been divided into 3 levels of inspection: Level 1: sections of the ROW without relevant geological problems requiring low levels of periodic routine inspections, engineering evaluation, and maintenance. These sections are inspected routinely at intervals not exceeding three weeks (21 days), but not less than twenty-six (26) times per calendar year. Level 2: sections of the ROW susceptible to geological problems due to their particular characteristics, moderate to high-levels of work of periodic routine inspections, engineering evaluation, and maintenance. These sections are inspected at intervals not exceeding fourteen (14) days, at which time the inspection becomes overdue and enforceable. Level 3: sections of the ROW that due to their particular features require a high level of routine periodic inspections, engineering evaluation, and maintenance. In addition, this level includes thirdparty problem areas due to urban expansion requiring more frequent monitoring. These sections are inspected routinely at intervals not exceeding nine (9) days, at which time the inspection becomes overdue and enforceable.

The information is compiled in daily reports similar to those presented in Appendix 3. The information includes, among other things: details of onsite geological features related to cracks on the surface, mass movements, saturation fields, and others that imply an active process of movements, among others, their geographic location, proposed solutions, and other actions for monitoring preventive and corrective works. In each case, actions are taken regardless of the priority level of the problem.

SCOPE OF INSPECTION Inspections require ascertaining various factors: inspections have preventive and corrective purposes allowing for detection, identification, and tracking of any unusual conditions at surface, which could be caused by varying processes of instability. Instability indicators, such as landslides, depressions, settlements, scarps, cracks, marks, subsidence, soil displacement, and others, are evaluated in order to determine root causes and foreseeable consequences.

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During inspection of the ROW, technicians ascertain the situation at river crossings and other bodies of water, and pay special attention to the status of the channel and margins due to flooding. Problems detected are promptly recorded in a report. Every two years, the OCP analyzes the thickness of soil cover over the pipeline along crossings through the use of topographic surveys at each weld in order to define if further work is required to protect the pipeline. Following the construction phase, OCP engineers have executed specific studies defining the minimum thickness in order to ensure pipeline integrity. If engineers measure this thickness as being less than that stipulated in the original design, they add new protections at river crossings. In addition, the depth of the pipeline is controlled at certain sectors presenting vehicular traffic on roads, highways, and paths, among others, in order to define the need to place additional protections. At vehicular intersections, OCP engineers have established that the minimum soil cover may not be less than 92 centimeters in depth, while at river crossings, soil cover may not be less than the minimum expressly stipulated in designs. Inspectors also see the condition and stability of support structures including gabion walls, concrete walls, metal stake tables, steel pipe piles, etc., in order to ensure that strains or loads unacceptable due to overloads have not been induced on retaining structures. All works performed on the ROW in relation to geotechnical measures implemented to stabilize the terrain, are inspected and assessed in order to determine their condition and potential need for maintenance, repair, or replacement. Engineering assessments of the ROW are collected in accordance with properly established formats and checklists.

Among others, aerial surveys help to recognize the following natural features: regional geological structures, potentially unstable areas, actively unstable areas, eroded areas, flooded areas, sensitive areas identified during the construction and operation phases, areas possibly affected by seismic or volcanic processes, areas affected by forest fires, possible invasions of the ROW, and construction prohibited in the area of influence of the OCP (service stations, petrochemical industries, etc.). Figure 6 presents a panoramic view of a section of the ROW of the OCP and a neighboring landslide. At least once a year, OCP engineers perform an overflight to effectively visualize a minimum distance of 200 meters on each side of the pipeline, and if necessary extend this area to detect unstable sites beyond the visited field. [3] CRITICAL AREAS OF INSTABILITY Geological problems reported by ROW maintenance staff are later reviewed by geotechnical engineers and a geologist in order to ascertain hazards and vulnerabilities, and then determine the frequency of inspection and other necessary actions in maintaining the integrity of the Pipeline [4]. The main problems with the pipeline are ground movements. As the history of interventions and geological features go, the most critical areas are inspected by a specialist in geology. This monitoring frequency is higher in those sections with higher features of recurring instability. The OCP is strengthening its predictive approach with respect to landslides through hazard and vulnerability assessments of the pipeline as a result of passive natural elements and triggers. OCP engineers have developed a methodology based on algorithms related to indirect factors and analysis of hierarchical multi-criteria. This represents a semi-quantitative method allowing for appropriate response concerning susceptibility in each area. Results are recorded in a matrix in order to determine intervention priorities A and B as being of high or low risk. Priority values are shown in Appendix 4 and include a list of critical zones used by a committee of specialists to establish plans of action for each case. According to priority, OCP technicians will establish various engineering actions for confronting the geological risk of each sector. Actions are related to studies, field investigations, type, and frequency of monitoring, geotechnical instrumentation requirements, stabilization works, and preventive maintenance works, among others. Actions are related to the level of assessed risk. OCP engineers carry out specialized geological studies in high risk areas, such as prospective geotechnical works (geophysical, borings, soil laboratory testing, stability

FIGURE 2: PANORAMIC VIEW OF A SECTION OF THE ROW

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calculations, etc.); frequent inspections, detailed geological mapping; geodesic control, inclinometers, strain gauges, alignment control of the pipeline with metal detectors and pits; and mechanical stress modeling of the Pipeline. With this information, OCP engineers perform stabilization works continuously around area monitoring. In addition, these areas contain plans for potential spill response. Areas presenting a lower risk called for preventive works, geodesic control, and a decrease in monitoring frequency. Appendix 4 depicts a list of critical zones ascertained by the committee of specialists charged with drafting plans of action for each case. Fluvial erosion of the main river channels is evaluated every two years based on topographic bathymetry allowing Engineers to determine the dynamic evolution of the river along with protection requirements. The Geophysical Institute, an external organization to the OCP, informs engineers in relation to the existence of real-time events, such as volcanic and seismic problems presented at the beginning of this paper. GEOTECHNICAL MONITORING In areas where clear features of instability have been detected, the OCP employs various methods of geotechnical instrumentation implementing, topographic surveys, and other advanced methods, such as pig runs, to determine whether there is an active thrust of the soil in the pipeline. Described below are examples of each of the methods employed within the ROW and within the interior of certain industrial facilities [5]. STRAIN GAUGES OCP Engineers decided to uncover the trench here in order to preserve pipeline integrity. Figure 3 presents a panoramic view of the placement of such strain gauges at Kp 128 of the ROW, and Appendix 5 presents a typical graph of the Pipeline subjected to active landslides at Kp 481. During the early operational phase of the OCP, specialized instruments were placed to monitor naturally-occurring stresses in the pipeline in certain portions of ROW. Engineers installed strain gauges, such as "Weldable Strain Gauges" in sectors where they clearly identified active fault crossings, as well as other areas with clear instability of the ground. At all sites, data indicate that the pipeline is permanently subjected to active stress and compression effects within normal operating ranges. Only at Kp 481, where there is an active landslide, did OCP

technicians detect that stresses were above normal ranges, hence requiring that the pipeline be uncovered.

FIGURE 3: PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE PLACEMENT OF STRAIN GAUGES

INCLINOMETERS During the operational phase, inclinometers were placed in areas of real or potential instability in order to continuously detect the dynamic state of the sites. Information is normally taken onsite each month, and this has guided the construction of various stabilization works. Inclinometers show the existence of ruptures, where they are located, and the speed of movement. Its software provides various types of graphs: cumulative displacement and time plots, among others, thus providing actual interpretation regarding zone stability. Inclinometers placed along the OCP pipeline show slow to very slow movements, in the order of millimeters per month, which often do not generate instability features at surface. Frequently, this situation provides OCP engineers with more time to improve preventive or corrective works. Appendix 6 shows a typical plot of the data processing of cumulative displacements for an inclinometer placed on a landslide, which clearly indicates the layer of soil subject to movement. Figure 4 shows a typical installation of an inclinometer on the ROW in the Andean zone.

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TOPOGRAPHIC SURVEYS Topographic surveys are very useful tools when used in areas suspected of potential or active landslides. In such areas, OCP technicians have placed topographical marks strategically placed on slopes, which are constantly monitored to determine the geodynamic state of such slopes. Through this data gathering, engineers can ascertain the existence of variations in geographic position (Northern and Western positions), and altitude. Frequency of data collection may vary according to changes in the velocity of movements of the ground, requiring more frequent readings when the speed of displacement increases, which could lead to problems in the pipeline.
FIGURE 4: A TTYPICAL INSTALLATION OF AN INCLINOME TER ON THE ROW IN THE ANDEAN ZONE

In general, movements are slow thus helping engineers take necessary actions to preserve pipeline integrity. Figure 6 shows a technician gathering data during a topographic survey.

SETTLEMENT MONITORING OCP technicians use an instrument that allows monitoring of vertical displacement variations. At the beginning of the operational phase, several settlements were detected inside industrial areas. Therefore, these instruments were placed in surrounding areas in order to take measurements every month at predetermined intervals. Until now, data collected show very slow vertical displacements. Figure 5 shows data logging with a settlement instrument.

FIGURE 6: A TECHNICIAN GATHERING DATA DURING A T OPOGRAPHIC SURVEY

ALIGNMENT PIPELINE CONTROL This type of monitoring is used in areas presenting evidence of possible surface displacement of the pipeline. In such cases, a topographic survey is performed through information gathered, by placing stakes on the surface showing weld positions. The length is determined by the field specialist. Stakes are marked onsite and this information is verified in test pits to determine its accuracy.

FIGURE 5: DATA LOGGING WITH A SETTLEMENT

INSTRUMENT

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This is followed by a walk-through along the axis of the pipeline with a metal detector, and intervals are marked with stakes. Alignment results are then compared with the information gathered, and this determines whether or not displacement of the pipeline exists, and in addition helps engineers infer the likely thrust of the ground. This information is very useful in determining where fixed supports exist, and movement sectors for referencing complementary geological surveys. Figure 7 provides an overview of the data collected employing a metal detector.

Engineers have identified areas of possible movements of the pipeline in many runs by comparing inertial periodic inspections carried out previously in the pipeline. This information has been useful in improving control works onsite, such as with open pits. No matter the status of the pipeline, engineers perform detailed geological and stress studies in order to prevent pipeline rupture. Figure 8 shows the information processed in a section of the OCP pipeline.

FIGURE 8: A TYPICAL DATA PROCESSING OF MFL

FIGURE 7: AN OVERVIEW OF THE DATA COLLECTED EMP LOYING A METAL DETECTOR

CONCLUSIONS Predictive, preventive, and corrective actions detailed in this technical paper, allow establishing a pattern in the management of geological problems that have an effect on the risk of rupture of the pipeline. In addition, it helps to support the annual budget for the maintenance of the ROW, along with the implementation of contingency and emergency plans in high risk sectors. This year, the OCP is updating data from unstable areas along the pipeline by using the LIDAR methodology as a new tool recently introduced in Ecuador. Following this, engineers adjust the risk analysis to reflect susceptibilities and associated ROW or pipeline vulnerabilities for identified risk events. These studies were recently begun and additional efforts are required to reflect the reality of the OCP pipeline.

MAGNETIC FLUX LEAKAGE The MFL (magnetic flux leakage) method allows detection in areas that present corrosion or missing metal. MFL runs are processed by using the same GPS surveyed points to control errors in the trajectory calculated for each section. The two lines are processed by matching the trajectories of the best run. After the sections have been processed, bending deformations of the runs are calculated by comparing them in two-foot intervals. Areas are then examined in detail where the bending deformation differs by more than 0.1%. These areas must then be checked in the field to determine potential damage.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author would like to acknowledge OCP Ecuador SA, the company that employs him, for its provision of technical information of the pipeline, and for the experiences that readers of this document may share. REFERENCES [1] ENTRIX; Review 2006, Environmental studies of Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline , pp. 15-51. [2] EQE INTERNATIONAL, 2002, Seismic verification of OCP at Fault Crossing; Report, pp. 3-36. [3] OCPE-L-GP-20116,2007; Inspection and Maintenance of Right of Way; OCP Procedure, pp. 4-15. [4] OCPE-L-GP-20115, 2007; Classification table of sections of the ROW; OCP Procedure, pp. 3-19. [5] OCPE-OM-P-20-01.PR-20-112, 2010; Geotechnical inspection of Right of Way, OCP Procedure, pp. 4-23.

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APPENDIX 1: THE OCP PIPELINE IS AFFECTED BY VARIOUS GEOLOGICAL FAULT SYSTEMS

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APPENDIX 2: THE GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF VOLCANOES IN THE AREA OF INFLUENCE OF THE OCP

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APPENDIX 3: TYPICAL DAILY REPORTS FILLED BY INSPECTORS OF RIGHT OF WAY

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APPENDIX 4: THE FIGURE DEPICS A LIST OF CRITICAL ZONES

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APPENDIX 5: TYPICAL GRAPH OF THE PIPELINE SUBJECTED TO ACTIVE LANDSLIDES AT KP481

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APPENDIX 6: A TYPICAL PLOT OF THE DATA PROCESSING OF CUMULATIVE DISPLACEMENTS

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