Evaluating Natural Force Hazards at Pipeline Water Crossings

Whether the pipeline is a proposed or existing asset, Geomorphic Solutions can help pipeline operators understand, mitigate, monitor and plan for flood related risks at river crossings. Geomorphic Solutions recognizes that an effective evaluation shouldn’t end with simply estimating probability for exposure – a full assessment integrates both the river processes and the pipeline properties to address the unique characteristics of each crossing.


Dr. Jeff Barry is a water resource engineer/hydrologist, specializing in fluvial geomorphology and evaluating hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes within river systems, with a particular focus on the risks flood related forces represent to oil and gas pipelines.

In his role as technical lead, Dr. Barry works closely with oil and gas clients in the United States and Canada, as well as internationally across Europe and Asia to develop and refine integrity management plans and programs.

Dr. Barry has led the assessment and evaluation of flood-related risks at thousands of water crossings along tens of thousands of miles of pipeline from both desktop assessments and in the field. For pipeline water crossings at significant risk from flood related forces, Dr. Barry assists clients in prioritizing and implementing monitoring and/or mitigation plans to reduce and manage risk.

Dr. Barry has presented at a variety of conferences sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the International Pipeline Conference and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, discussing pipeline integrity and risks from natural forces.


Inventory Data Management and Program Development

Where are all of our water crossings? This question is not as simple to answer as it might sound, but is perhaps the most important one. An accurate, complete and well thought out inventory is the cornerstone of a successful and robust water crossing program. Geomorphic Solutions can assist pipeline operators in locating all pipeline water crossings. This list is often large, but by applying a series of filters and screens using publicly and operator supplied data, Geomorphic Solutions can quickly identify those water crossings most at risk from flood related forces to help focus resources – both time and money – where needed.

Site Assessments

River hydrology and geomorphology often vary at different water crossings. As such, the potential for river bed scour, bank erosion, channel migration and river avulsion differs between river crossings. Pipeline installation methods and operational properties can also vary between river crossings. Geomorphic Solutions has performed hundreds of detailed river crossing site assessments and has the experience and expertise to rapidly collect the necessary field data and site observations.

Detailed Scour and Erosion Studies

Not all depth of cover is the same. Not all exposed or unsupported pipelines are equally vulnerable to flood related scour and erosion. Geomorphic Solutions has developed an effective, proven and efficient approach to evaluate the frequency and magnitude of pipeline integrity concerns at river crossings. Our method does not end with predicting potential scour depth and erosion rates. Rather, this is only the start. For buried crossings, Geomorphic Solutions determines if these channel changes have the potential to expose, suspend, and/or undermine the pipeline. For suspended crossings, Geomorphic Solutions determines under what flood conditions the pipeline gets wet. Geomorphic Solutions completes this assessment by evaluating if the flood related forces actually acting on the pipe are strong enough to represent a credible threat to pipeline integrity. We are unique in the industry in providing this full range of services.

Flood Response Action Plans

The probability or frequency of flood related risks to pipeline integrity often differ from crossing to crossing – as such, the potential need for, and type of, mitigation differs. Some crossings may require a hard engineering solution. For many others, long-term monitoring and the development of a flood response action plan represent effective risk management. Geomorphic Solutions can assist operators in developing the site-specific plans and tools for cost-effectively managing flood related risks to pipeline integrity.

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We’d love to hear from you with any questions about your geomorphic consulting needs.

Office: 425.765.5348

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