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Engineering, Integrity management

Pipeline integrity management in the Sahara

A Saharan project offers a new outlook

As subsea engineers, it’s not often we get to work on dry land but a recent project did just that for Senior Engineer Bruce Mackenzie.

An integrity project took him away from the wet world of subsea engineering to the hot, dry dunes of the Sahara Desert.

He told Ener-Jee about his trip. 

‘The work took place in the Western desert, a 300km flight from Cairo. Staying at 3 separate locations a few hours apart by road, the ABS team and I were auditing 5 separate joint-venture oil and gas sites. 

‘The ABS Technical Integrity Hardware Barrier Verification scope (or TIHBV, a mouthful either way) is a structured, systematic approach to verify the integrity status of safety critical hardware. The review is based on interviews, observations on site and review of equipment records.

‘There were 5 auditors (4 from ABS plus myself) all with different areas to focus on such as Safety or Rotating equipment. My area included pipelines, chemical injection, hazardous drains and passive fire protection.

Throughout each 12-hour shift, we had to do a quick review of the previous findings, arrange to meet the relevant site personnel, thoroughly review site equipment site and then update the various reports and trackers.’

No desert-net

‘Although I had my laptop, access to a network was not really possible so it was not an easy job of looking up reference documents, codes and standards.

‘Next time, I will assume there’s no internet access and take a good library of reference documents on my laptop.’

Travel tips

‘The local SIM card I bought in Cairo (thanks to advice from ABS for that!) helped a great deal with local communications. However, I also had to buy a cheap mobile phone as the SIM wasn’t compatible with my iPhone mini-SIM slot. I wish I had brought my spare Nokia.  

‘The hospitality from the local site personnel was excellent; likewise the weather, it was a pleasant mid-20’s Celsius every day. The few DVD box sets I took loaded onto a portable hard drive meant there was something to watch; it’s difficult to find a good movie in English on the local satellite stations.

‘And as for shops – there aren’t any! Take all you need in one suitcase for a 3 week trip, and you’ll be fine.’   

Bruce Mackenzie, Senior Engineer


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