A variety of conditions can make it difficult for Offshore Pipeline operators to pig their pipelines for cleaning, maintenance, or inline inspection (ILI), leading them to believe that their system is unpiggable. In reality, any system can be modified and made piggable. And with expanding regulatory requirements for inline inspection – and the fact that pigging can contribute to pipeline productivity and profitability – improving piggability is essential.
Pigging is often impeded by pipeline design characteristics – including tight, mitered, or forged bends, certain types of welds and connections, and dual- and multi-diameter pipe sections. Some valves, particularly older gate valves, obstruct pig passage; in fact, valves are the leading cause of stuck pigs and other pigging problems.
In the case of pipeline acquisitions, absent or incomplete records can lead to piggability concerns. And of course, systems without pig launchers and receivers cannot be pigged at all.
Conditions inside the pipeline – such as internal damage and the build-up of debris, sediment, and other flow-restricting materials – also cause pigging challenges. Because pigs are pushed along by product pressure inside the pipeline, low flow rates may cause stopping and starting, preventing the pig from performing effectively. Conversely, pigs running in high velocity product streams can also be less effective.
TDW helps operators improve piggability for:
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The installation of pig launchers and receivers is one key to making a system piggable. TDW offers Offshore Pipeline operators both conventional launchers and receivers and automated pigging systems that enable pigging access without interrupting flow.
In addition, TDW provides cleaning pigs that remove liquids and debris to maximize throughput and mitigate corrosion growth.
Launchers and receivers:
Technical assistance is available from TDW subject matter experts for special circumstances or if the path to a solution requires consultation.
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In the Offshore Pipeline market, safety is of the utmost importance. During planned shutdowns, hot tapping and plugging (HT&P) technology allows operators to complete topside pipeline replacements and modifications – from making lines piggable to line lowering and relocations – with minimal flow interruption.
The HT&P process incorporates a high pressure fitting, valve, tapping machine, and isolation equipment – all working together to provide a safe and proven isolation solution. Once the area of pipeline that needs work has been safely isolated and evacuated, the line modification can be performed.
The full suite of isolation solutions by TDW plays a critical role in this process. The STOPPLE® Train Plugging System, for example, uses double block and bleed technology to help increase efficiency and safety during pipeline maintenance and repair. This approach to line isolation, which can create a double block and bleed seal through a single fitting, reduces costs associated with fittings, valves, welding, and inspection services. The bleed port affixed on the line ensures that any product that bypasses the first seal is captured and evacuated through the bleed port, which creates a safe zone within high-consequence areas.
Whether operators are purchasing equipment to perform their own HT&P jobs or turning to TDW to execute the service, they can rely on the company’s line of equipment and consumables. The Subsea 1200RC tapping machine, for example, is a topside-driven hot tap machine that can be safely operated down to a depth of 3,000 meters (9842.5 feet). The machine has proven to be a highly reliable shallow and deep-water solution.
TDW also can partner with operators before the work begins, providing consulting services to help them make optimum use of our products and services. The company’s application engineers are recognized industry experts, ready to assist operators through each project phase – from start to finish.
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Pipeline modifications are often necessary to improve piggability. Before Offshore Pipeline operators can execute modifications, however, safe and efficient non-intrusive isolation must be performed. TDW provides unique isolation technology and services that enable line modifications to be done at full line pressure.
SmartPlug isolation tools are tracked and identified by the SmartTrack™ two-way communication system. The SmartTrack system accurately tracks, positions, and identifies pigs and tools in thick-wall buried or subsea pipes.