Although the traditional method based on stress analysis is simple and convenient, the main limitation is that it does not reflect the actual failure mechanisms (or limit states). A pipeline network database of about 40 thousand kilometers comprising 258 design cases that represent combinations of steel grade, diameter, pressure, and location class is established, in order to evaluate and improve the design factors specified in the Chinese standard “Code for design of gas transmission pipeline engineering” (GB 50251). Referring to the research report “Target Reliability Levels for the Design and Assessment of Onshore Natural Gas Pipelines” accomplished by C-FER in 2005, the critical wall thicknesses and corresponding equivalent design factors are calculated by using reliability-based method to meet specified reliability targets.

The research shows that the equivalent design factors obtained by Reliability-Based Design (RBD) method tend to increase as the pipe diameters get larger. The new design factors are smaller than those specified in the design code for pipelines with small diameter in location class 1 and 2, and larger than those in the design code for the other pipelines. Therefore, design factors are modified in each location class. The new factors are specific to pipes with small diameter (D ≤ 508mm), medium diameter (508mm < D < 711mm), and large diameter (711mm ≤ D ≤ 1219mm), thus enhancing the rationality and practicability of design factors.

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