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TDW: bringing pipelines into compliance

Published by
World Pipelines,

As technology advances and regulations expand, pipeline operators change the way they manage line integrity, which necessarily includes updating their integrity management programmes (IMP). When a pipeline operator creates or updates an IMP, it provides detailed procedures for monitoring, maintaining and repairing pipelines to help avoid failure and mitigate future repairs. These safety precautions not only serve to protect the environment and personnel, but prove to regulatory bodies, such as the United States Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), that the pipeline can operate safely and under compliance.

A new case study, titled ‘Seam Assessment and Regulatory Compliance: Multiple Datasets + EMAT’, illustrates a scenario in which an operator must choose new inline inspection (ILI) technologies for future seam assessments, and create a new IMP to help address the multitude of integrity threats detected by advanced ILI tools.

The specific scenario outlined in the case study took place in the United States, with PHMSA as the regulatory body, but the resulting comparison of ILI technologies can benefit pipeline operators in any country.

In early 2015, a segment of low-frequency electric resistance welded (ERW) pipe segment ruptured in several places, leaking over 5000 gal. of liquid propane. PHMSA mandated that the operator could not run the line at maximum operating pressure (MOP) until they surveyed the full extent of the damage and brought the pipeline back into compliance.

To return the line to MOP, the operator needed to find the hook cracks and lack of fusion in the long seam that caused the ruptures, then repair the defects according to the current IMP. To assess the damage, the operator chose to run a seam assessment tool in the pipeline.

In addition to the full seam assessment, the operator needed a comprehensive method for identifying defects and prioritising repairs in the future. To develop that method, the operator decided to run four different ILI technologies, from multiple service providers, on a section of line with the goal of finding one tool or combination of tools for future evaluations.

The final reports revealed an enormous compilation of data detailing 605 crack, crack-like, and possible crack-like features.

The case study authored by T.D. Williamson – a global pipeline services provider – outlines how the pipeline operator revised its IMP to accommodate the amount of data gathered with advanced ILI technology. It also details the results of the operator’s comparison of four ILI technologies: SpirALL(R) electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT) and SpirALL Magnetic Flux Leakage (SMFL), ultrasonic crack detection (UTCD), and circumferential magnetic flux leakage (CMFL). The study discusses the impact of using each technology, as well as the operator’s plan for bringing its pipeline into compliance.

Edited from source by Stephanie Roker

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