Company History

The History of T.D. Williamson, Inc.

1920: T.D. Williamson, Sr., establishes The Petroleum Electric Company

T.D. Williamson, Sr., started “The Petroleum Electric Company” on January 2, 1920. The electrical contracting firm served the emerging petroleum industry by supplying electric motors, electric generator stations, and other oil field applications.

The company operated under that name for 12 years. During this time, an employee named William Heltzel created an important product concept: a cup-shaped rubber element for pipeline cleaning tools. The idea was broached to Gates Rubber, who supplied the neoprene or nitrile cups for pipeline scrapers.

1933: T.D. Williamson, Inc. established

The Petroleum Electric Company became T.D. Williamson, Inc. (TDW) in 1933, operating out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Within two years, the first location became too small to handle expanding business, so the company acquired land in West Tulsa. There, the first TDW manufacturing plant was erected in 1947, and it was soon followed by others. These buildings now house most of our Tulsa operations.

1942: The first pigs are developed for the War Emergency Pipeline System

World War II created an urgent need for oil and gas to supply the Armed Forces in Europe. In response, the War Emergency Pipeline System was developed, using 20-inch and 24-inch pipe – the largest in the country at the time. Because pipeline scrapers had not been developed for them, TDW was asked to develop a technology capable of effectively cleaning the large-diameter piping system. Consequently, the scraper or “pig” was born. According to some, P-I-G comes from the term Pipeline Inspection Gauge, but the tool may also have earned its name because it makes a squealing sound when it runs through the pipeline. Plus, T.D. Willamson, Sr., was a graduate of the University of Arkansas, making it a fitting tribute to the school’s Razorback pig mascot. 

1950: Introduction of the first pipeline tapping machine

With the invention of the pig, TDW moved into the pipeline equipment manufacturing business. Soon after, Colonial Pipeline licensed TDW to manufacture and market their invention for a “tapping” machine, which drilled branch connections to piping systems without leakage or interruption of line flow. Today, TDW offers several tapping machine models, available in 1-inch to 96-inch diameters, and accommodating a wide range of temperatures and pressures. 

1956: Introduction of the first folding head STOPPLE® plugging machine

TDW performed the first folding head STOPPLE plugging job on a 24-inch by 36-inch cast-iron gas main for a gas company in the northeastern United States.

1957: Introduction of the PIG-SIG® scraper passage indicator

The PIG-SIG indicator eliminated waiting and listening for a scraper to pass through the pipeline. The device gave positive indication of pig passage with an electrical and/or a mechanical visual signal.

1958: Opening of TDW Canada Ltd.

1961: Introduction of SHORTSTOPP® low pressure plugging machine

With an ad campaign featuring a young baseball player named “Shorty SHORTSTOPP,” TDW introduced SHORTSTOPP technology, a low-pressure plugging machine that provides a quick and effective way to stop-off piping at working pressures up to 60 psi and temperatures to 180° F.  

1962: Introduction of the STOPPLE fitting design (LOCK-O-RING® flange, full branch split tee, or full encirclement 3-WAY™ tee)

After five years of research and development, TDW engineers came up with a way to improve plugging fittings without increased cost: STOPPLE fittings. Due to the new LOCK-O-RING completion plug, the product performed exceptionally well in testing.

1963: Historic underwater tap in the Gulf of Mexico

A customer needed an underwater tap and tie-in 35 kilometers (22 miles) off Grand Isle, Louisiana. They only had seven days to complete the project – and it needed to be done 39 meters (130 feet) under the sea. To safely complete the project at that historic depth, TDW used 12 divers, with only 1 or 2 on the bottom at a time. It took approximately 36 hours, working around the clock, to set the sleeve, make the tap, and tie in the loop.

1964: TDW UK Ltd opens in Maidenhead, England

1968: New TDW manufacturing plants in Belgium and Great Britain

In answer to increased demand in Europe, TDW opened a new plant in Nivelles, Belgium expanding its manufacturing capabilities. The company also moved TDW UK from Maidenhead to a larger facility in Swindon that same year. The two plants provided hot tapping and plugging equipment, pipeline pigs, cathodic protection equipment, and rental service for the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries in Europe.

1969: New manufacturing facility in Canada

Located at Georgetown, Ontario, this new plant provided more than 1,200 square meters (13,000 square feet) of floor space devoted to the production of TDW equipment for Canada’s growing pipeline and hydrocarbon processing industries.

1970: TDW develops underwater tapping device

Through an extensive research and development program, TDW created a rapid method for subsea pipeline tapping using a shaped charge explosive and a special fitting. The new patented and tested method offered customers significant savings on a typical undersea hot tapping operation.

1971: TDW introduces the world’s largest batching pig

The 56-inch, bi-directional batching pig was one of two pigs built at the TDW Tulsa plant. The pigs were used as separators between salt water and crude oil after being sold to another company.

1972: Introduction of the KALIPER® pipeline geometric surveyor

Designed to measure, record, and locate changes in the inside diameter of pipelines, KALIPER technology could detect dents and obstructions, as well as record changes in the wall thickness. A KALIPER pig survey made in a newly constructed line can assure owners and operators that the line is in good condition before it is put on-stream.

1975: Introduction of the conical pig cup for improved performance

TDW completed the engineering and development of the conical pig cup, which was used on standard scraper-type pigs and could be furnished at special diameters to provide optimal pipeline performance.

1977: TDW performs the pipeline survey and provides the lead fill pig for startup of the Alyeska Pipeline

After being involved in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline project from early in its planning stages, TDW designed, built, and operated the KALIPER pig used during construction of the pipeline. The historic climax to the Alyeska line-fill operation was the arrival of the pig that led the first oil from Alaska’s North Slope, traversing 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) of pipeline into storage tanks at the ice-free port of Valdez.

1977: Customer-oriented training school opens in Tulsa

TDW opened a new fully-equipped and staffed training facility near the main TDW manufacturing facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The facility’s three-day customer training sessions included operation of TDW equipment in a structured classroom environment, with audio-visual presentations and demonstrations on the proper use and maintenance of the equipment. In 2002, another training center would be built at the TDW manufacturing plant in Tulsa.

1977: New manufacturing plant in Tulsa

TDW opened a new plant in December 1977, with a goal of improving productivity and the ability to supply the needs of TDW customers while keeping down product costs. The new plant had more than 11,600 square meters (125,000 square feet), making it 75 percent larger than the old plant, and offered a 40 percent increase in available vertical storage. Crane coverage (33 cranes ranging in capacity from 1 ton to 20 tons) was provided for 90 percent of the manufacturing area.

1978: VANTAGE® IV pig is announced

TDW began full-scale production of the VANTAGE IV pig, which can be used in about 80 percent of all pigging applications. It easily adapts for use as a batching pig, a dewatering pig, and a cleaning pig, with a choice of either urethane blades or steel wire brushes. With the addition of an aluminum gauging plate, the VANTAGE IV pig may also be used as a gauging pig. The VANTAGE IV pig is lower in cost than other pigs, with only one basic body and cup required for all pigging functions.

1979: First underwater plugging operation

A pipeline customer familiar with our expertise in hot tapping and plugging gave TDW the go-ahead for the first underwater STOPPLE plugging machine operation, which TDW performed off the Louisiana coast at a depth of 7 meters (25 feet). A corrosion inspection pig was lodged in a section of 12-inch transmission line, in an area where the pipe apparently sustained damage from a “spud” barge. Flow from the offshore platform to the terminal 85 kilometers (53 miles) away was restricted even further when two locator pigs launched in the line also became stuck. This underwater operation proved to be a safe and efficient solution to a critical situation, avoiding more down time and expense for the pipeline.

1984: Introduction of the SHORTSTOPP 500 plugging system

The SHORTSTOPP 500 plugging system upgraded the 275 plugging system by increasing operating pressure to 500 psi. The SHORTSTOPP 500 plugging system had a full line of new 300D fittings, split tee, 3-WAY tee, and spherical 3-WAY tee. SHORTSTOPP 275 had been in use since 1973, and SHORTSTOPP 500 is still in use today.

1986: TDW Asia Pacific Ptc Ltd. opens in Singapore

1993: TDW becomes ISO 9001 certified

On June 11, 1993, TDW officially became ISO 9001 certified. The certification, which requires meeting standards for quality and efficiency, applied to the design and manufacture of engineered systems for monitoring, pigging, tapping, and plugging essential piping systems in refineries, chemical plants, public utilities, onshore and offshore pipelines, gas transmission, and distribution systems.

1994: Completion of the largest hot tap in the Western Hemisphere

TDW completed the largest hot tap – 66 inches – ever performed by the company in the United States. The job took place in the Miami, Florida, area on a sewer line expansion project. The tap was successfully completed in about six hours.

2000: New pipeline cleaning service

In response to the need to reduce costs in the pipeline industry, the Pigging Products Division, housed at the Pipeline Surveys location in West Tulsa, announced the formation of a new pipeline cleaning services group to help reduce maintenance personnel and equipment for operators.

2002: Technology Center offers training during challenging economic times

Despite a difficult economic climate, TDW invested time, resources, and money into developing the Technology Center on its Tulsa campus. Pipeline owners, operators, and technicians can receive hands-on training and qualification for a wide range of pipeline operations and maintenance tasks.

2005: TDW acquires Plugging Specialists International (PSI)

This acquisition enhanced TDW's offshore market presence with proven technology and application capabilities in the form of the SmartPlug® inline isolation system. This type of isolation eliminates the need for, and expense of, installing a subsea fitting. Combining TDW products and services with PSI technology, engineering, and project management accelerated the company’s growth in the offshore services market.

2007: First line stop job on a 102-inch wastewater line in Baltimore

Baltimore faced a serious problem when sinkholes began developing above the city’s primary wastewater collection line. An ultrasound scan inside their aging 102-inch pre-stressed concrete pipe revealed that years of gas accumulation had decomposed the top lining of the concrete pipe, causing debris to collect at the bottom of the line. Despite the logistical complexities of tapping and plugging such a large diameter pipe, Baltimore never experienced any interruption in wastewater collection.

2007: Facilitating the Chicago O’Hare Modernization Project

To make room for a new runway during Chicago’s $6.6-billion project, TDW helped facilitate the relocation of almost a mile of 90-inch, 25-year-old high-pressure concrete water main without disrupting drinking water service to 300,000-plus residents in seven communities. The project involved building a small lake to hold water while the lines were moved out of the way. TDW helped the city of Chicago save approximately $80 million on the project.

2007: Offshore isolation performed above the Arctic Circle

TDW provided a 30-inch SmartPlug isolation for an offshore transit line at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. At the time, this project had the distinction of being completed at the highest-ever latitude and in the coldest weather (-13° C, not including the wind chill).  

2007: TDW locations on every continent except Antarctica

With the addition of service centers in Dubai, Bischheim, Moscow, Jamnagar, Rayong, and Warsaw, the total number of TDW locations worldwide hit 50, with a TDW outlet on every continent except Antarctica. These new locations allow TDW to service operators no matter where their assets lie.

2008: Record-breaking subsea hot tap

One hundred sixty kilometers (100 miles) off the northwest coast of Australia, at a depth of 130 meters (425 feet), a 30-inch line carrying gas from platforms to an existing 40-inch trunk line posed numerous technical and environmental concerns. TDW completed the subsea hot tap in just six hours with a single cutter. Upon completion, the cutter and coupon were retracted and the valve closed.

2009: Introduction of STOPPLE® Train double block and bleed isolation system

After a prior design proved too bulky and expensive, TDW created the STOPPLE Train isolation system, a plugging technology that allows two plugging heads to be entered into a single opening. The new design reduced fitting costs, welding time, and safety concerns.

2010: First STOPPLE® Train isolation in Europe

TDW performed its first STOPPLE Train double block and bleed isolation on a pipeline in Europe. The operation took place in Italy at a refinery located on the border of the Piedmont and Lombardy regions in the heart of the Po Valley.

2010: New TDW manufacturing facility in India

TDW announced the opening of a 7,500 square meter (80,700 square foot) engineering and manufacturing center in Savli near Vadodara, India, as part of its continuing commitment to the Indian pipeline and petroleum processing market.

2010: Introducing SpirALL® magnetic flux leakage inspection tool

TDW announced the debut of its patented SpirALL magnetic flux leakage (SMFL) inspection tool, the latest addition to its range of magnetic flux leakage inspection tools. The technology is capable of inspecting for long, narrow defects in the pipe wall and long-seam weld.

2010: New D-500 Threaded Closure

D-500 threaded closures are an economical solution for providing quick, easy, and safe internal access to pressure vessels (pig traps, filters / strainers, blow downs) to small diameter closures.

2011: TDW opens first facility in Colombia

TDW opened its first facility in Bogotá, Colombia, in response to demand for its pipeline pressure isolation and repair services.

2011: Largest-to-date hot tap and folding STOPPLE® plug operation in Vietnam

TDW announced completion of a challenging hot tap and folding STOPPLE plugging operation on a critical water main in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The operation, carried out for engineering design, construction, and supervision consultants CDM International on behalf of Saigon Water Corporation (SAWACO), was the largest STOPPLE tool plugging operation TDW performed in the Asia Pacific region at the time.

2011: New TDW office in Western Australia

TDW opened a new office in Perth, Western Australia, to offer customers its full range of products and services. Located on St. George’s Terrace in the heart of downtown Perth, it serves as the administrative and engineering services center for all offshore operations currently being conducted in Western Australia and Victoria, and for supporting future operations in Papua, New Guinea, and New Zealand.

2011: TDW performs first subsea STOPPLE® Train isolation

TDW announced completion of the first-ever subsea STOPPLE Train isolation. The patented system links two plugging heads into a “train” capable of providing the added assurance of double block at each isolation point. The double isolation was performed in about 18 meters (60 feet) of water in the Gulf of Mexico to facilitate abandonment and decommissioning of an old platform.

2012: Launch of Multiple Dataset (MDS) inline inspection platform

The new inline inspection tool allows operators to combine multiple inspection technologies – including deformation, axial magnetic flux leakage (MFL), low frequency MFL, SpirALL MFL (SMFL), and XYZ mapping technologies – in a single inspection run. This comprehensive approach to inline inspection helps customers find and more fully characterize defects in fewer runs, as well as prioritize repairs and reduce unneeded digs.

2012: Historic SmartPlug isolation tool project

TDW created a customized 48-inch SmartPlug pipeline pressure isolation tool that weighed approximately 12 tons – the largest SmartPlug tool produced to date. TDW successfully isolated the line using double block and monitor SmartPlug technology.

2012: TDW unveils remote-controlled Subsea Tapping Machine

TDW developed and deployed the Subsea 1200RC Tapping Machine, a compact remote-controlled subsea hot tapping machine. The system, which is extremely lightweight, allows hot tapping to be carried out from the safety of a diving support vessel (DSV) or platform, resulting in significant safety benefits and improvement in operational control.

2012: First TDW Kazakhstan office

The new office was set up in Atyrau because it is known as an “oil capital,” with a number of major oil and gas companies and service providers operating in the area. The city possesses a well-developed infrastructure, a good transportation system, and is located at the juncture of Europe and Asia – making it the perfect hub for meeting customer needs in that region.

2012: TDW isolation helps an offshore client reach major milestone

For 299 days, the longest-to-date pipeline isolation operation in company history, a TDW remotely-operated SmartPlug pressure isolation tool remained in a pipeline network offshore Australia. The purpose was to create a double block isolation against gas pressure to depressurize a key section of the pipeline while a 600-ton module was installed on an offshore platform. The depressurization was a safety precaution in case of dropped objects during the installation.

2012: First inline inspection using SpirALL Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) technology

TDW introduced the new SpirALL EMAT technology, putting it to use for inline inspection of pipelines. The new tool enhanced the ability to detect cracking features such as stress corrosion cracking, as well as bending strain, metal loss, and other defects using one inspection tool. The company performed its first EMAT inspection in September 2012 on a 12-inch pipeline in Texas.

2012: New inline inspection reporting software

TDW developed and deployed a new proprietary inline inspection (ILI) reporting software known as Interactive Report. Designed with ILI customers in mind, Interactive Report is a data visualization tool that makes it easy for users to filter and view their pipeline inspection data, with the goal of helping them to more intuitively assess where problem areas exist.

2013: SmartTrack™ monitoring system goes global

TDW began offering its SmartTrack remote tracking and pressure-monitoring system for use in customer projects across the globe. Until then, this technology had been used exclusively by TDW to carry out pipeline pressure isolation operations in conjunction with the company’s SmartPlug isolation system.

2013: New TDW maintenance center in Abu Dhabi

TDW opened a new maintenance center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to better serve the onshore and offshore needs of Middle Eastern and African operators.

2013: Record-high STOPPLE® Train pipeline pressure isolation

TDW performed a STOPPLE Train pipeline pressure intervention in Australia. An operating pipeline pressure of approximately 1480 psi (102 bar) – a record high for TDW at the time – was maintained throughout the operation, which made it possible to safely remove and replace a pipeline valve in a remote desert in northwest Australia.

2014: TDW reaches inline inspection milestone of 800,000 kilometers

In July 2014, TDW announced that its inline inspection technology had helped customers inspect 800,000 kilometers (500,000 miles) of pipeline, providing operators with the information they need to prioritize repairs and mitigate risk.

2014: STOPPLE® Train isolation milestone

TDW celebrated its 1,000th STOPPLE Train double block and bleed isolation, reducing risk during maintenance, repair, and tie-in operations for many customers. The versatility of this system allows it to be applied to many customer projects around the world.

2015: Introduction of SmartLay™ pipeline flooding prevention system

This technology was created to protect personnel and the lay barge in cases of a wet buckle during subsea pipe laying. The tool automatically isolates an area of pipeline when it senses seawater or a change in pressure, keeping the flood water to just that section and preventing the need to dewater.

2015: Launch of positive material identification process to comply with PHMSA regulation

Prior to impending regulation from the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), TDW launched it positive material identification (PMI) process, an in-situ non-destructive evaluation methodology to identify material properties where records do not exist for a given pipe joint.