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Title: Pipelines - past, present, and future
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Catalog No.: 2422s
Date of Publication: 2018-03-01
Price: $0.00 US
Authors: Dr Brian Leis
Abstract: This paper underlies the Keynote presentation on ‘the ageing pipeline of the future’ which the organizers wanted to address ‘what this Technology of Future and Ageing Pipelines’ (TFAP) Conference might ‘look like 50 years into the future’. While some humans live to well beyond 100 years(1), reality for others is a life span of 50 years or less on average (2), whereas the more fortunate who live under better circumstances survive on average to 85 years(3). In this context, 50 years can be considered a long time. Relative time in the present context equates to the likely occurrence of change, whose effects must be predicted. Weighed against the many significant developments that have caused change over the 115 years, since the horse and buggy era ended with the advent of the Ford Model A circa 1903(4), 50 years seems like an eternity.

In contrast, the life of a pipeline is judged somewhat differently, in terms of its serviceable utility, and the cost to maintain it that way. Consequently, many pipelines have been in service in excess of 50 years, while others have been taken out of service for various reasons in less than 10 years. A website whose homepage(5) makes reference to the Association of Oil Pipe Lines and the American Petroleum Institute (API) indicates that by the advent of World War I crude oil pipelines were traversing much of the US. It further notes that during the 1920s the pipeline mileage grew to over 115,000 miles. As some of the early pipeline system is known to still be in service, it can be said that some operating pipelines in the US that are approaching 100 years in use. Given that cradle to grave for a pipeline can be on the order of 100 years, it is likely that such a conference 50 years hence (i.e., in 2068) will include one or more sessions on vintage pipelines – whatever ‘vintage’ will be then taken to mean. And in parallel to current Keynote, there is likely to be a keynote in 2068 on the pipeline of the future, to be given then by what is now a young freshman engineering student somewhere in the world today.

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