Potential Solutions for Assessing Pipeline Conditions
Assessing the condition of pipelines, especially as they get older, is an increasing task. John Sheehan surveys potential solutions.
The expansion of the offshore industry in recent decades has brought with it a huge growth in subsea pipeline infrastructure. From the Åsgard Transport pipeline in the Norwegian North Sea to the West Natuna gas pipe line in the South China Sea, thousands of kilometers of offshore pipelines have been laid, all of which need regular inspection, repair and maintenance.
The focus on asset integrity management has also sharpened as operators look to increase the lifespan of mature assets. Key to this are advances in both internal and external pipeline inspection technologies, which operators use to check for corrosion degradation and pipeline blockages.
Companies such as GE PII Pipeline Solutions, Rosen, TD Williamson and NDT Global among others are in the frontline in the battle against pipeline defects.
Another company providing clamp-on technology for pipeline inspection is Tracerco with its Discovery and Explorer offerings.
Discovery can perform a detailed high resolution CT scan of subsea pipelines, distinguishing between wax, hydrate, asphaltene or scale deposits, data that is paramount when planning any flow remediation campaigns. It can also detect wall thinning, corrosion and pitting. Discovery is deployed using an ROV and clamped onto the pipe, with real-time communications allowing instant assessment of pipeline conditions.
Explorer meanwhile, can fast screen pipelines (100m/hr) to locate restrictions. Explorer detects the location of deposit build-ups by measuring the density profile of the pipeline and then analyzing any detected anomalies. An abnormal density, in relation to the material flowing in the line, indicates a build-up of deposit.
Both devices work without the need to remove the pipe coating material. Once Explorer has located the area of the suspected blockage, Discovery can be deployed to accurately characterize its precise nature. The technology has recently been deployed to Australia, where there are more than 4000km of subsea pipelines in operation.
“Operators who face flow challenges need to get their pipelines back to full operation quickly,” says Ken Pearson, Tracerco’s managing director in Australasia. “The speed at which we can deploy, coupled with the fact that coatings do not need to be removed from the lines before inspection, saves time and costs whilst mitigating the risk of damage to the pipeline.”
Testing in a realistic, controlled, and cost-effective manner is crucial to the development of new technologies, such as Discovery, which trialled at The Underwater Centre.
To find out more about the subsea test facilities available in Fort William, visit our website here. Alternatively you can contact us on +44 1397 703786 or [email protected].