Pipe stress analysis


Simon Flaherty

Simon Flaherty

I would recommend it to anyone in future.

Verified by an engineer

Working as a Mechanical Engineer at hydrocarbons firm Perenco, Simon Flaherty spends a significant portion of his time working on pipe designs which are, of course, vital in the sector. So, when he saw the IMechE’s Pipe stress analysis course, he knew it would be valuable for his role.

Based in Perenco’s Norwich offices, Simon completed a three-year graduate programme at the firm in September 2022. The scheme saw him spend three consecutive years working in different parts of the business, broadening his experience and knowledge of how the company works. Prior to joining Perenco, Simon gained a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northumbria University.

A technical profession was always likely for Simon. His favourite subjects at school were maths and design, and he spent many years tinkering with motorbikes with his father in their garage. “I really enjoyed the practical side of it, so it just seemed the right path to go down” he explains.


Why Pipe Stress Analysis?

As part of the graduate scheme at Perenco, Simon gained exposure to many parts of the business, and felt drawn to piping engineering in particular. This is an area he’d like to develop his career in.  

Much of his work at present involves providing piping & mechanical support to a variety of projects including creation and review of discipline specific deliverables; MTO’s, Datasheets, Requisitions, 3D models, Isometrics and Pipe Support Drawings, Construction Workpacks as well as interpreting Pipe Stress Reports from subcontractors. However, Pipe Stress Analysis is a niche area of expertise, and not something you can just ‘pick up’, and so formal training was necessary. Having previously attended Design of Piping Systems training with the IMechE, he decided to further his knowledge with the Pipe Stress Analysis course.

What was your experience of the course?

Simon attended a two-day, in-person course at the IMechE’s London headquarters in October 2022. There were around 15-20 other attendees, he says, with a range of experiences, although mainly people at earlier stages of their careers.   

In terms of structure, Simon explains about 75% of the course was lecture format, with students taking notes from the instructor. This training covered the basics of piping systems before moving onto the essential theory behind pipe stress analysis, covering materials, mechanics of solids, allowable stresses, design for pressure, primary and secondary stresses. There was also training on piping codes, standards and UK regulations including PED/PESR and the differences between ASME B31.3 and EN 13480 design codes. The other 25% of the time was spent working through industry examples using CEASAR II  –a pipe stress analysis software commonly used within the piping industry. Students were given a demo version of the software to download on their computers and were taught how to set up and analyse a piping model. He found it helpful just “understanding the interface”. Although Perenco uses CEASAR II already, Simon had never had the opportunity to set up a model himself, populate it with data, and get to grips with running analysis and interpreting results, so this practical side of the training was “really, really useful”.

He adds that the course in general was “very relevant for me, because a lot of the examples that the instructor went through were oil and gas related”. Many of these demos were similar to tasks he works on at Perenco, so he could apply the learning to his own job.

Learning about the broader theory of pipe engineering was also valuable for Simon. When thinking about which course to apply for, he had considered getting training directly from Hexagon, a global software company who develops and owns the rights to CEASAR II that Perenco uses. However, one of his colleagues had attended that course and told Simon “it was more just about how to operate the software, rather than understanding why you do things”. However, Simon wanted to go back to first principles of pipe stress analysis, to learn about the theory, rather than just the practice of using software. Another advantage is that “you could definitely take away what you learned on the [IMechE] course and apply it to  other [pipe stress analysis] software used in the industry”, rather than just learning about one vendor’s technology.

What are the three reasons someone should attend the Pipe stress analysis?

  1. Understand key theory and principles of Pipe Stress Analysis.
  2. Learn how to use CEASAR II with industry examples.
  3. Receive instruction from a highly experienced piping systems engineer.

What impact has the training had?

It’s only been a few weeks since he attended the course, so Simon hasn’t yet made extensive use of his training. “But there is an upcoming project that’s definitely going to include pipe stress analysis”, so it will come in handy then, he reckons.

Since pipe stress analysis is a relatively niche skill, Simon says Perenco usually subcontracts out the work to specialists. So, as he orientates his career towards more piping engineering roles, he will spend a lot of his time working with subcontractors, reviewing their work and assessing their designs. The fact he went on the IMechE course will “help me interpret pipe stress reports, and future piping design workflows provided by subcontractors… so it’s really relevant”.

What’s next?

Simon plans to apply for his Chartership with the IMechE in the next few years, and so is building up his portfolio of skill and experience to that end - attending this course will add to his continued professional development hours. So, it looks like there’s plenty more in the pipeline for Simon...

Pipe stress analysis

  • Duration:
    2 days
  • Location:
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec: