Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Wenxing Zhou


Metal-loss corrosion is a major threat to the structural integrity and safe operation of underground oil and gas pipelines worldwide. The reliability-based corrosion management program has been increasingly used in the pipeline industry, which typically includes three tasks, namely periodic high-resolution inline inspections (ILIs) to detect and size corrosion defects on a given pipeline, engineering critical assessment of the corrosion defects reported by the inspection tool and mitigation of defects. This study addresses the core involved in the reliability-based corrosion management program. First, the stochastic process in conjunction with the hierarchical Bayesian methodology is used to characterize the growth of defect depth using imperfect ILI data. The biases, random scattering errors as well as the correlations between the random scattering errors associated with the ILI tools are accounted for in the Bayesian inference. The Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation techniques are employed to carry out the Bayesian updating and numerically evaluate the posterior distributions of the parameters in the growth model. Second, a simulation-based methodology is presented to evaluate the time-dependent system reliability of pressurized energy pipelines containing multiple active metal-loss corrosion defects using the developed growth models. Lastly, a probabilistic investigation is carried out to determine the optimal inspection interval for the newly-built onshore underground natural gas pipelines with respect to external metal-loss corrosion by considering the generation of corrosion defects over time and time-dependent growth of individual defects. The proposed methodology will facilitate the reliability-based corrosion management for corroding pipelines.