Interface Experts Dig Pipeline Pigging Conference

February 21, 2013

By: Peter van der Schans

Last week, Interface Consulting’s experts, including myself, attended the Pipeline Pigging and Integrity Management Conference, held at the Marriott Westchase in Houston, Texas from February 13-14, 2013. The conference, now in its 25th year, is dedicated to pipeline pigging, inspection, evaluation, and repair. For those of you that may not be familiar with pipeline pigs, they are tools that when inserted into pipelines, travel through the pipeline for cleaning or inspection. They range from simple foam bullet-shaped structures used for cleaning to complex electronic devices that analyze the condition of the pipeline.

Attendees of the conference included representatives from pipeline owners and operators, engineering firms, maintenance companies, and many other industry-related parties. Industry experts packed each day of the conference with presentations on a variety of pipeline inspection and maintenance topics, including:

  • Techniques and best practices for establishing marine pipeline integrity during commissioning
  • Overcoming challenges by assessing vintage pipeline girth welds
  • Essential elements of pipeline risk assessment
  • Guidance for determining pipeline corrosion growth rates
  • New technology for assessing pipeline cracks
  • A study of pipeline rupture incidents

Over 130 companies hosted exhibitor booths at the conference, including Weatherford Pipeline & Specialty Services, Adapx, BASF, Oceaneering International, EMS USA, Sypris Technologies, and many more. Many booths included displays and even demonstrations of actual products and tools, including different types of pigs, monitoring devices, repair products, and other tools associated with pipeline maintenance.

I personally had the opportunity to test a tool-less pipe closure device developed by Sypris Technologies that allows smooth opening and closing by one person in a matter of seconds. I also discovered a reporting tool developed by Adapx that fills out field inspection reports electronically. The attending Interface experts also spoke with a variety of pipeline maintenance service providers and manufacturers, including Enduro Pipeline Services and Willbros, regarding their latest products and techniques.

Pigging is an integral part of the pipeline construction process. For example, newly constructed pipelines must be pigged for cleaning and inspection purposes. Often, issues arise with the cost or time associated with pigging during commissioning, which can contribute to claims or changes orders that are the subject of a dispute. In some cases, inspection of a new pipeline can reveal defects that need to be repaired, which can result in project delays and additional costs. Pigging is also an essential component of proper maintenance of an existing pipeline.

Interface Consulting is a leading expert in pipeline engineering, construction, and repair issues. We analyze design and construction issues for our pipeline industry clients such as scheduling and labor inefficiency impacts caused by untimely shutdowns, move-arounds, right-of-way permits, and work sequencing; late owner-furnished pipe and equipment; defective pipe and materials; and construction changes.

The Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference provided a range of experiences to help pipeline industry professionals remain up to date with the latest industry methodologies, technologies, and products. Knowledge of the industry’s best practices can help reduce the time and cost of a pipeline construction project. In addition, proper pipeline maintenance, including an effective pigging program, can reduce the likelihood of unexpected pipeline incidents and resulting downtime in the future.

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