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While the utility of performing baseline inspections and run comparisons is becoming better understood for traditional onshore pipelines, the value for such inspections and analysis is much higher in an offshore environment where the requirements for reliability and the costs for remediation are even greater. With proper planning, in-line inspection (ILI) can be done with little to no impact to production schedules, and the data gathered can result in improved operational confidence and efficiencies.
Some of the perceived difficulties of ILI, such as loss of production, top-side modifications and increased risk, can be greatly reduced or even eliminated with modern ILI technology. The next generation of ILI tools are small and lightweight, allowing for easy navigation of complex pipeline geometries while still gathering high resolution data that exceeds what previous tools could gather. Bidirectional tools reduce risk, and new tools no longer need large, bulky launchers and receivers.
In order to fully capture the value of a set of inspection data, the newly gathered information should be compared to all available other information, including construction records, spot UT measurements and more. Comparing one ILI dataset to a previous one allows an operator to detect change in a pipeline before it becomes a significant integrity risk. Using this data to update and improve operational regimes can help to maximise the value of these key assets.
While ILI inspection reports provide summary information in a way that is easy to quickly understand and take action, the underlying data is of critical importance and should be interrogated as well. As multiple ILI datasets are gathered on more and more assets, both offshore and onshore, the possibility and importance of doing raw data comparisons at selected locations continues to increase. Looking at inspection data from multiple technologies is possible and can provide greater insight than any single technology could. New software tools, combined with trained analysts, can isolate and review specific locations or anomalies for signs of change and to verify integrity.
One critical point for understanding and managing integrity is to perform baseline inspections. By performing an ILI on a pipeline before it is placed into service, the complete pipeline line can be verified to be within specification. In addition small anomalies can be detected and monitored so that it can be understood what is changing in the pipe before anomalies can become significant or injurious. Understanding when and at what size an anomaly was in a pipeline two, five or even ten years prior, can give an operator confidence to understand what is changing, and equally importantly, what is not changing. As an example, corrosion inhibition programmes can be monitored and updated so that they are made as efficient as possible. Inspection can help an operator understand the impact that various operational decisions have on the integrity of a pipeline.
In this way, understanding the capabilities of modern ILI tools as well as how to best use all of the information which they provide allows for more efficient and confident operation.
Dan Revelle, Vice President, Western Hemisphere Inspection, oversees the inspection and condition assessment of pipelines, process piping and fired heaters for Quest Integrity in North and South America.
Dan has worked with Quest Integrity and its predecessor companies since 1996, and was one of the main developers of Quest Integrity’s LifeQuest Pipeline software. He has worked on creating advanced engineering solutions from laser and ultrasonic inspection data, as well as several other specialty engineering software programmes. Dan has a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Carleton College, a master’s in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado and extensive experience in computational mechanics.
Quest Integrity is a global leader in the development and delivery of asset integrity and reliability management services. Our integrated solutions consist of technology-enabled, advanced inspection and engineering assessment services and products that help organisations in the pipeline, refining, chemical, syngas and power industries improve operational planning, increase profitability, and reduce operational and safety risks.
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