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Pipeline Owners Hunt for Smarter PIGs

Thursday, July 26, 2012

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Under growing pressure by regulators and the public to step up safety, the pipeline industry has put in-line inspection technology (ILI) on the front burner.

The Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), which is underwritten by the energy pipeline industry, says its new research agenda expands and accelerates development of new ILI tools and next-generation asset integrity technology.

 “Smart pigs” (pipeline inspection gauges)

 PPSA

“Smart PIGs” (pipeline inspection gauges) will need to get smarter, with better sensor technology and data processing methods, to stave off future ruptures and leaks, owners say.

“The PRCI ILI Research Program is directly aligned with the ongoing initiatives of both the natural-gas and hazardous-liquids pipeline industries to achieve the goal of zero pipeline incidents,” PRCI announced recently. “This objective relies heavily on the performance of ILI tools and technologies.”

Innovation Imperative

ILI technologies, or pipeline inspection gauges (PIGs), provide high-resolution data that currently form the backbone of most integrity management programs, but that hasn’t been sufficient to prevent the recent years’ series of devastating pipeline ruptures and leaks.

Current research is focusing on a variety of ILI enhancements, including improvements to sensors and sensor delivery platforms as well as better data processing methods and techniques to interpret the signals being collected.
 
"Although pipelines continue to be the safest mode of transportation, it is imperative that the industry continues to innovate to ensure the integrity of these key systems to achieve our goal of zero incidents,” said Andy Black, President and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.
 
Following the Fingerprint

PRCI says it has invested more than $1 million in its first project, which will evaluate the ability of current ILI technology to determine the pipeline metallurgical "fingerprint." The project is using data from ILI tool runs to identify changes in pipeline materials and/or properties.

Council President Cliff Johnson said PRCI would “continue to work closely with our members, government, and the public to ensure that we are addressing the key challenges facing the pipeline industry today, tomorrow, and in the future.”

For more information about this project or the PRCI ILI Research Program, contact Mark Piazza, PRCI Director of Pipeline Programs.

   

Tagged categories: Health and safety; Inspection; Pipeline; Pipelines; Research

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